My life of faith has involved a number of different steps and is something that I am always trying to grow in. Part of this growth has been trying to make time daily to spend in prayer and Bible reading. Some days I work this time in, other days I miss it. On the days I miss it, I can really tell as I seem to be more worn down and less prepared for everything the day has to offer. In short, I miss what God is saying to me. So today, I thought I would write a little bit about prayer.
Prayer is the name we give to the experience of being in communication with God, it is our way of talking and listening to God. The reason it is called an experience is that prayer involves our senses, minds, souls, and spirits.
Prayer is also called communication with God because it involves both giving and receiving, and it is shared between two living beings, you and God. In prayer you share all of your deepest desires, needs, concerns, and feelings; and God responds to them. God answers all prayers with his presence, comfort, insight, and, at times, change. Prayer is the heart of a deeply personal relationship between you and God. Now this does not mean that God will always answer your prayers in the way which you expect. Rather, God will answer prayers according to his will and purpose. Sometimes the will and purpose of God is different then what we expect, but it is always to benefit our relationship with God and our neighbors.
Prayer is the centering of our life in our relationship with God in Christ and allowing that center to be present in all we do. Christ will satisfy the hungering soul. Christ will bring relief to the pained heart. Christ will respond to the cry for mercy or the complaint for justice. Christ will be there when we simply need to feel that our relationship with God is warm and real. Christ will be there for rest, guidance, joy, love, and hope throughout our lives. In prayer we present our whole life and the lives of others to God, so that God may be known and the lives we pray for may be touched by the grace of God.
A professor named Walter Wangerin wrote that prayer is made up of four acts or parts. Two of these acts are ours and two are God's. The parts are broken down in this way:
- First, we speak,
- while, second, God listens.
- Third, God speaks,
- while, fourth, we listen.
What is sometimes hard for us as humans to believe is that God speaks back to us in prayer, but that is the way a conversation goes, and prayer is no exception. So when you pray, make sure you take time to not only tell God what is going on in your life, but also make sure you take time to listen to what God is saying to you. God will speak to you, sometimes in strange and different ways, and you just have to make sure that you are listening.