In our most recent previous posts, we provided you with some tips and truths about prayer. We’d like to take the conversation a little deeper and will be answering several questions about the practice of prayer in the next few articles.
I think the best place to start is with the question: What exactly is prayer? When people are asked this question, a common response is “talking to God”. Even the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: “an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought”. While these might be technically accurate answers, they are also incomplete ones. Prayer is so much more. Prayer is a conversation with God.
Conversations are a dialogue in which the participants listen and respond to one another. Therefore prayer is a dialogue with God in which we are expressing our hearts to Him, and listening for His response to us. Conversations are also the means by which relationships grow and develop. Think about it, how close are you to people you don’t interact with? And how do you feel when someone rattles off a whole list of what is going on in their life but never stops to allow you to comment? If you are anything like me, you are probably apt to feel like you are unimportant to the person speaking to you. You might even feel neglected or taken for granted. Under these circumstances, life probably feels pretty lopsided and the relationship suffers. The same holds true of our relationship with the Lord when our prayers are not truly conversations.
I know there was a time in my life when my prayers to God resembled a monologue in which I would only list my problems or ask that God fix them. I would go days, or weeks, sometimes even longer, without taking the time to engage in prayer. Then very often when I did, it was one-sided with me doing all the talking but never listening for His perspective or response and then wondering why I wasn’t growing in my faith the way I thought I should be. Praying without listening for God’s response is like checking off a box; we do it because we have been told we need to pray but this type of prayer is very often ineffective at bringing about any real change in our lives.
Prayer is the foundational spiritual discipline, partnered with reading the Bible, that will allow you to build a relationship with the Lord and grow in your faith. It is through relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit, that we learn how to relate to the world around us as the Christians God calls us to be. Without an ever deepening relationship with God, we will be entirely unsuccessful at living out the purpose He has for us: To know Him and make Him known to others.
Don’t know where or how to start conversational prayer? That’s okay. I have created The Practice of Prayer Journaling: An Essential How To Guide that will provide a model and help you establish healthy prayer habits to support your continued growth and spiritual development, whether or not you write your prayers out or speak them. It is available for just $5 and all proceeds help Being Remade continue to provide services helping others in the process of becoming who God created them to be.