I love the conversation of prayer! So often misunderstood – and nothing more important! So lets talk about it!
I have spent very little time writing on the subject of prayer even though we are in a time of 40 days of prayer and fasting as a church:). And the reason has to do with what I think our culture believes about prayer. When we use the word – Prayer – people often think of this in a light that I am not meaning. They think of it as sitting in a church and listening to someone recite a prayer. Or being in a group talking TO God. Or what we observe from professional athletes.
Not everyone sees it this way – but there are many that observe it as a bore, something that Christians ‘have to do’, a waste of time or pointless. If I am honest, I viewed prayer this way for years. I would have never said anything – because ‘good’ Christians shouldn’t say things like ‘prayer is boring’.
Part of the reason for writing this blog is to explore prayer! It is as much for me as for you! There is something about writing that forces one to process differently then just thinking! I ask different questions – knowing that every day for 40 days I am going to write something to spur people on to know God. I read, wonder, look, talk about prayer and knowing God a lot! I love it.
On this quest I have found many definitions for prayer and ways in which people pray. Most of them are really good – but none really seemed to capture all of what I seem to be exploring about God.
- To communicate with God
- To Listen to Him and obey
- Prayer is silence – quieting ones soul
- To love God
St. Therese said “For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.”
- That definition was rich!
There seems to be so much more to prayer then just talking with Him. I was wondering what the simplest definition might be – yet not missing anything :). I came across this quote – and it fascinated me! I don’t know if it fulfills all of what prayer is – but it’s at least a place to start and continue the wonder that we have!
Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God
Why does this connect with me?
Likely because it is so much more than – reading my bible, or being in a prayer meeting, or being on my knees, or walking with the Spirit. Although all of these in and of themselves can be great!
Let me explain through an analogy of my relationship with my wife Kendra. If you observed my relationship with Kendra based upon our verbal communication – you would see one side of us. If you added to that the non-verbal communication between the two of us – you would have something much more rounded – and yet not complete.
It goes beyond that. More than a glance across a crowded room that says – are we having fun – or is it time to leave :). Looks that speak 1000 words to one another – good and not good :).
Suppose I am in another country and Kendra is at home. When I walk into a store and see dark chocolate – what do I think of? My bride. She loves dark chocolate :). When I go to a concert and there is a violinist – a wave of memories of my early years of knowing kendra fill my mind. Conversations coming out of those moments will most definitely include stories of Kendra and I playing in an orchestra together when we were 11 and 12 years old (I bet most of you didn’t know that :). I played viola and she played violin).
OR the knowledge of going about your day and out of the blue you know that something is likely wrong. You just know that you need to pray or phone or both. The ability to have the other on your mind a lot! When you are in love – it doesn’t take much to be reminded. It takes very little effort at all to pay attention.
I assume the same is true about hatred, offence, hurt, bitterness etc. There are reminders all day long that you are at odds with someone. You try to push it out of the way, try to forget, move away from, run if you need to. And one incident or memory can spark all the same emotions as being with the person. Space and time isn’t enough.
But what about when you are not in love or hate! Does anything get triggered? Is there any reminder? Or does everything just revolve around our pretty little worlds. Doing our own thing, minding our own business, life as usual – just don’t ruffle a feather!
No deep relationships – fearing that you might get hurt.
No passion – because that leads to risk.
No dreaming – because that eventually requires action.
Rather….get up, eat, go to work, be nice, come home, talk to roommate, eat supper, read a book, watch the news, go to sleep – repeat! Fear that anything more than that will throw off your world.
And that’s the point!
Prayer may just be best defined as simply paying attention to God.
- God revealing a fear in our lives – and we allow Him to speak into it
- Seeing birds on a walk – God reminds us that he takes care of our needs
- Walking down the street and seeing someone struggle – The Spirit propels you to love
- Feeling overwhelmed – God gently reminds you of what you can be thankful for.
- Holding unforgiveness – hearing a gentle voice that says – I forgave you, you can forgive them.
- Catching yourself humming a song from church – and all of a sudden you know He is with you.
- About to get angry – choose to hear the gentle voice – walk away!
- Hearing of tragedy – and become overwhelmed with a need to intercede.
Perhaps prayer is paying attention to God. Being aware of God, all the time, and responding!
When I come home from a trip and see my wife – the first thing I do is go right to her and give her a hug and a kiss. It’s the only natural response!
When we pay attention to God – we will absolutely fall in love with Him
When we fall in love with God – we will want to pay attention to him