By Gwen Sellers
What is prayer really about? Asking? Receiving? What if prayer is really about relationship? In a way, prayer with God is like having coffee with a good friend. Certainly you may ask the friend to do you a favor, and they might ask you the same. You might learn something new about your friend, then share about your life in return. You'll hopefully feel understood and encouraged and reciprocate the kindness. We don't meet with a good friend just to get something. We go to spend time with someone. Is that what prayer is like for us? Do we pray to simply "get something", or are we doing it to get time with God?
Disciple! magazine recently interviewed author Paul E. Miller about a Christian's prayer life. Miller suggested approaching prayer like a child. Have you ever heard or witnessed the funny situations caused by the uncensored words of kids? They don't self-monitor their speech or their requests. They bounce around to different ideas and share irrelevant stories. But we don't mind. In fact, many appreciate that honesty about kids. They are so raw, so authentic. That's how we can be with Godóraw, uncensored, fully honest.
Prayer isn't a formula. It's not about saying the right thing or not saying the wrong thing. Prayer is about spending time with our Daddy. Tell Him about your day, ask questions, express the desires of your heartócompletely uncensored. Prayer is not about performance; it's about relationship.
Just as when we meet with a good friend, it's not all about talking. Often prayer is about listening to God's response as the Holy Spirit speaks directly to our hearts or through Scripture. Sometimes it's just about sitting quietly and sharing a moment of peace with our Heavenly Father. God is our refuge (Psalm 46:1; Psalm 91:1-2). Sitting still in His presence, we can experience the walls of His fortress (Psalm 46:10). We begin to know Him more deeply. We are as the child, content to just sit in her father's arms, hear his heartbeat, feel the safety of his chest, experience the warmth of his embrace, and know that all will be well.
Simply put, prayer is a way to commune with God. It involves praising and thanking Him, telling Him our heart's concerns, asking for help, then accepting and expecting that He will carry them. Prayer is about listening to God, getting to know Him, letting Him know we love Him, and being reminded of His love for us.
Image Credit: Luca Moglia; "The silent prayer"; Creative Commons