The Practice of Prayer

It’s Wednesday night at 7 o’clock, we are gathered at the corner of Queens Avenue      apraying handsnd Adelaide Street in London, Ontario to pray.  We sing a couple of hymns, listen to a brief study of God’s Word then we gather in groups to pray.  But the prayer time seems very sterile and safe.  We pray for health issues, the pastors and missionaries and conclude with an Amen. But there is something missing.  I finally have put my thumb on it.

Prayer can become very rote. We do it because, well, God created Wednesday nights for prayer meeting, didn’t he?  It becomes so mechanical that we can pray whether God shows up or not. We forgot that the fundamental reason for prayer is not asking for stuff but having communion with the Creator of the universe.

Jesus taught this in his model prayer to his disciples.  When we pray there is a recognition to whom we are speaking, he is ‘Our Father in Heaven.’ There is an attitude of entering a holy place as we bow together with the recognition that we have been invited by him to enter. Hebrews 4:16 teaches us that we can boldly enter into the throne of grace to find help in time of need. We boldly enter with proper reverence and humility.

Have you heard the expression that prayer is work? For a long time I didn’t grasp the significance of that statement. The older I get (cue the record player!) the more I am beginning to get it. Prayer involves more than the repetition of phrases that we have learned from others. It involves the connection of our soul with God. For that reason we need to make sure that there are no impediments (sin) between us and the Lord.

Too often we treat prayer as the lucky rabbit’s foot. We think if we pray then all will be well and God will grant us our desires! Or, if we pray then we will have no problems, if we pray at the right time, with the right posture then God is almost obligated to answer us as we wish. But we have missed the greatest treasure of prayer. True prayer is the intimate relationship that we have with our Father (by the way, the fact we call God ‘our Father’ is a clue to that intimacy).

Jesus gives us a clue to this intimate relationship he invites us to in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” How in the world can we turn down that invitation! It is worthy of us clearing everything from our agenda to respond with all our soul, “Yes!”  The invitation to have a meal is something very personal and intimate. The Lord invites us to sit at his feet and pour out our heart and listen to Him. From the intimacy of our heart we express our love for him and desire to please him above all. That is what we do in prayer!

I am still learning about prayer. I am not sure I understand all of it yet but I hope to grow in getting to know the One to whom I am speaking. You?