Read His Words Before Ours!
“Prayer is just talking with God.”
If you grew up in church, you likely heard this phrase.
What IS prayer, actually?
A spiritual connection?
Talking to God is part of prayer, but it’s not nearly the whole, not according to people who truly prayed prayers that made their mark in the heart of God.
Wouldn’t we all want that?
For our prayers to assuredly hit the mark on God’s heart?
We want to be heard. We want to know that what we say matters.
More so, we want to know we’ve been warmly received, heard, known.
The prophet Elijah stood on a mountain before a crowd of haters and, against all odds, prayed aloud for the Lord to consume an offering dripping in water with fire. The Lord answered by sending a flame that consumed not only the offering, but also the water.
His prayer hit the mark.
How do we pray like this?
Have you ever tried to buy a gift for someone you don’t know?
Or for the person who seems to have everything?
H A R D
Instead, consider preparing a gift for someone you dearly love.
It may take time, but likely, clarity will come and, ultimately, the gift carries significant relational weight. It no longer becomes about the gift, but about the depth of love conveyed by the gift.
So it is with prayer.
The goal is to know the heart of God.
To live and pray from this place of knowing Him.
This deep, personal knowing is why Elijah could face his enemies with boldness.
He knew the heart of His God.
This kind of praying requires something often missed, yet quietly found, inside the loveliness of conversation.
Conversation conjures up images of coffee mugs, tea cups, and warm bread. It looks like hearty laughter, eyes glistening with delight or brimming with tears. It’s shoulders lunging forward in eagerness, and fingers curled around another’s hand when words are choked by tears. Conversation is open, safe sharing; it’s listening, hearing and being heard, knowing and being known. It’s sacred loveliness.
Herein is the invitation of the Almighty for each of us.
“When you pray, go into your private room, shut your door,
and pray to your Father who is in secret.” (Matthew 6:6)
Found in the messy, scary, and vulnerable is the secret place of authentic prayer.
Not long ago, I began to understand prayer is actually a school, a training ground, for learning how to deeply converse with the God of the Universe. We simply cannot come into prayer expecting to understand all nuances and effective means for striking God’s heart. The twelve disciples, who saw Jesus wake up every morning, stretch His arms, yawn, eat bread, teach, become exhausted, and wake early the next day to pray, asked Him how to pray.
“He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray[…]” (Luke 11:1, emphasis mine)
I’ve been praying since I was a toddler, and in this moment, I feel as if I’m quite certainly on the shallow end of learning to pray. Yet, how wonderfully my Savior has already taught me! The more I learn, practice, and train in this magnificently tender discipline of prayer, the more I am wondrously delighted to discover an infinite amount of closeness yet to be uncovered in the secret place of lovely conversation.
As Jesus finished His ministry of teaching His disciples to pray, He declared an unfathomable truth, “The one who believes in Me […] will do even greater works than these.” (John 14:12) He was returning to His throne of all power and authority with the Father. From this place, He would endow all believers, through His indwelling Spirit, to accomplish even more through prayer than He had! (John 14:13-14)
When we grasp this truth, breathing it into our everyday moments, then we begin to converse differently, deeper, with the Almighty. In understanding that the Lord truly meant His instruction, “In everything, through prayer […]” (Philippians 4:6), the importance of every minutia is elevated. All things encompass the parking spot request, praise for the last box of food, prayer for the grieving heart, the cancer patient, the broken washing machine, the sorrow we feel, the anger inside, the gratitude flooding us: All Of It. In the normalcy of intentionally choosing to pray about all things, at all times (Ephesians 6:18), we find we are actively uncovering the riches of the Father’s heart to a greater degree with every single prayer.
For me, and many believers through the ages, a little “holy imagination” assists us in visualizing the reality of lovely conversation with God. (St. Teresa of Avila) My favorite imaginative scenes for conversing include walking through a field as a child, with face upturned to the Savior who holds my hand, listens, and speaks. I love to sit on the front porch, coffee mug in hand, speaking with the Christ and breathing in the majesty of this God who chose to be fully human and fully divine that He might pay the death penalty we owed because of our own arrogant, prideful sin. Perhaps, like me, you might breathe out your pain between sobs, grasping His wrists and feeling His scars as you look into eyes that share your pain, because He knows what you feel. (Hebrews 4:15) Do you sense His arms encircling you, holding you up, lifting Your face to see His glory, reminding you this lovely conversation is exactly what His heart desires? (Psalm 3:3)
Pour out your heart to Him. (Psalm 62:5-8)
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!