Prayer – An interactive conversation with God!
Communication is the cornerstone to every relationship. Our conversation with God begins as God knits us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:12-14). Most are wired for human contact even if they prefer the written rather than the spoken word.
How awesome our God put His word in the most beautiful love letter ever written – the Bible. God shows us the importance of communication by weaving lessons about prayer throughout the Bible. These lessons apply to every relationship we may wish to start, build or repair.
Here are a few basic lessons I always need to remember:
Lesson #1: I can’t mess up!
There is no wrong way to pray, our Father in heaven celebrates every utterance made in prayer.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Even the chattiest sisters are sometimes at a loss of words. No worries! The Holy Spirit knows what we want and interprets for us.
This is the foundation of prayer. The first step is to turn towards God, opening our hearts, minds and ears. The words don’t matter.
This is a very important lesson to remember when angry or estranged from God or anyone else.
The first step at reconciliation is to begin communicating, even if we are only able to weep, growl, shake a fist or give a dirty look, we are communicating. We are acknowledging the existence and power of God over our lives.
God is big enough to handle our anger. Many prophets, Judges, disciples and other characters of the Bible had attitudes with God without being struck by lightning. God and Jesus expressed anger. God is not holding us at a higher standard than everyone else. Who are we fooling by holding it in? God already knows we’re mad! Let it go!
For some, this may be easier said than done. I hate conflict and anger scares me. When I’m upset I usually run away to hide in the darkness to weep and lick my wounds. But as I shared in a previous post, Forgive Me Father, I was openly angry at God when my brothers died.
God heard my sobs when I was hurt, God found my hiding place and called to me. God didn’t call out because He didn’t know where I was! He calls to let us know He is near and to give us the opportunity to cry back (Genesis 3:9; Psalm 86:7). God promises never to leave us.
Many Christians never get past this primal level of prayer. And that is okay!
It is very important to know that although we can be taught more effective ways to pray, these lessons don’t bring God closer. God is always close. We are the wanderers, not God.
These lessons help us develop healthier skills to keep our eyes and hearts on God. If we want to draw closer to God and others, we need to learn healthier ways to communicate without kicking, screaming or running away. This leads us to the next lesson.
The next lesson teaches how to develop the calm to crawl up onto our Father’s lap, snuggle in, look into His face and allow Him to wipe our tears and give us reassurance.
Lesson #2: Healthy communication is learned!
While our instinct may be to throw tantrums, a few basic manners, such as please and thank you, creates a civil environment, allowing us to live peacefully with others by developing the basic skills of cooperation, appreciation, contentment and patience. The same applies to our relationship to God.
What I like most about Jesus’ lessons about prayer is they model the simple rules I learned in school.
Let’s jump into Jesus’ teaching on prayer found in Luke 11 (NIV). I love this lesson. One day one of Jesus’ disciples says, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
I always think this is so funny because they are with God! They are talking to God. They are in relationship with God in human form; asking, thanking and praising him for stuff. We know they were constantly confessing their failures and asking Jesus to clean up their messes so this request always makes me chuckle.
This verse sounds like “Jesus, the Jones’ have a a new car…” or “Pastor, St. John’s has a Saturday service…”
Jesus being God teaches them a prayer:
“‘ [Identify who you are talking to] Father, [Say something nice] hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. [Use your words] Give us each day our [take only what you need] daily bread. [Say your sorry] Forgive us our sins, [share the love] for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And [follow the leader] lead us not into temptation.’”
And the rest of the message? Come back often, don’t be a stranger. Be persistent. Keep knocking. Keep calling because Jesus promises, “…your Father in heaven gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13 Amen.
The Holy Spirit is a really cool gift. Please share how you’ve cashed in on your free gift.