What Then is Prayer?
‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. Revelations 3:20
Yesterday we looked at one of the main issues to the lack of prayer in our lives. Today we are going to look at what it is like to experience prayer that is energizing and life-giving.
First, think of one of your best memories that includes food and loved ones. Who are you with and what’s taking place? That memory probably involves laughing, talking, listening, and simple enjoyment. In fact, those joyful experiences with your family or friends are truly a little taste of heaven.
Listen to Jesus’ words in Revelations 3:20 in the New Living Translation:
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
Jesus describes the relationship He desires with us similar to those experiences. A life devoted to prayer ultimately feels like sharing an intimate meal together with friends or family. If you think about what makes those memories so special, it simply has to do with relationship you have with the people you love. Yes, we use words to communicate but the words are just a medium to connect and experience the relationship.
Prayer is nothing more than talking to God. The words we use are simply the medium or tool through which we connect and experience God. However, many people struggle with prayer because we are more focused on praying rather than on God Himself. We can get caught up on saying the right words in the right order with the right intensity in the right way. Or we can get intensely focused on a certain approach or method of prayer. It’s no wonder many end up getting self-conscious about prayer, which ultimately prevents our ability to be God-conscious. If prayer becomes the focus, it eventually can turn into a method, duty or discipline. If prayer becomes one of those, it will always remain abstract, elusive, and ultimately empty.
A prayer life that is actually life-giving, enticing, and captivating is, simply put, focused on God. Your words are the most basic tools used to connect your heart to His. Thus, this week and beyond is not really about prayer, it is about knowing and experiencing God through prayer.
Like any real conversation with real people, expect your conversations with God to start with sharing something about yourself or God, have plenty of tangents, moments of refocusing, and be unordered in many ways. That’s how a conversation with a real person flows. Have you ever asked in the middle of a conversation, “How did we end up talking about this?,” and then tried to trace your conversation back to discover how you veered to this point? Sure, many if not all of us have. Yet, as tangential and unordered as real conversations are, they feel natural, meaningful, and highly engaging. That’s because the focus is on the person and the relationship, not the words or the actual conversation itself.
Once you focus on your words or make prayer the center of your time together with God, you begin to lose the life and joy of your time with Him. Instead, make God and your relationship with Him the focus and the center of your time together.
Have you ever got caught up in making prayer the focus rather than God? If so, how have you done that?
What is one change you can make in your prayer life that might help you engage with God more naturally and personally? Do you think this change may help you connect with God more frequently and consistently?
What if I start fasting but can’t carry on?
Fasting is not about discipline or endurance – it’s about deepening the relationship with God and really focusing in on Him. God will never think you have failed if you have to stop fasting. If you have never fasted before, seriously consider starting at a level that you can sustain – like cutting out one meal a day.
Is it just about going without food?
Definitely not! If all you experience during fasting is hunger then nothing of any value has been achieved. Take at least the normal time you would spend preparing food and eating to get in God’s presence to pray and read the Bible. We recommend that you do all you can to get together with others (i.e. family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc) and join together to pray – it will really encourage you. Also, try to get to the Praise & Prayer evenings at GSIS on Saturdays too (7:00 – 9:00 pm). We will have a Praise & Prayer night this coming Saturday, the 26th in Room #312 at GSIS to conclude our week of prayer and fasting. Hope you can join us!