Mystical, mysterious, vague. People mention prayer often, but you’ll rarely hear it defined in a tangible way. Well, here’s my definition: Communication with God, talking to Him about anything and everything, and the often neglected listening.
I hope you don’t think I’m approaching God in a disrespectful manner, but often I’ll ask Him for very specific things. Not that He’s a cosmic vending machine, but you’ll see what I mean if you keep reading.
Sometimes I ask God to show Himself to me when I don’t sense His presence, even though I know He’s always with me. Not long ago I was getting down on myself about something, and I decided to ask God to show me what He thinks about the situation. It was amazing! The next day and a half, three people mentioned the situation to me and encouraged me about it, even though I hadn’t said anything to them. It seems that somehow God prompted each of them to say something I needed to hear concerning my discouragement about it. How could they have known that I had been obsessing and getting down on myself about that very thing, and three people brought it up to me with encouraging words? Wow! Now that’s what I call a hug from God!
This weekend one of our friends, a teenage girl, called me upset about her school schedule. She felt like her social life had almost no chance because her lunch didn’t coincide with anyone in her grade and their assigned lockers aren’t close. She was very upset, and felt like she was going to be the only 8th grader in her lunch period. She doesn’t have any friends in her classes because she’s taking higher level courses. I’m not kidding when I say that this felt tragic to her…Remember back to junior high? We talked it through on the phone, then we prayed very specifically. We asked God to work it out for what He knows is best, but would He let her see His perspective so that she could have joy about it in the process? About one minute after we hung up the phone, she called me back, super excited and short of breath, “Ms. Christine, you’re going to love this! Right when we hung up the phone I got a text from one of my good friends telling me that we have the same lunch schedule, so I won’t be alone!” God doesn’t have to say “yes” to our every request, but it is so fun when we ask Him to give us a heart like His and then He delights us with little and big things.
There are other aspects of prayer that I really love: When I am desperately seeking answers and He gives me crystal clear insight or wisdom to parent or in my other relationships. Of course, an important aspect of prayer is also confessing sin. Many people would say that they neglect this part. But whenever I think to ask God, and many times when I don’t ask Him, He is dependable to lovingly show me where I have a sinful attitude or behavior.
One of my other favorite things about prayer is worship. Something I love about God is that He is so Holy and unlike us, yet He’s also completely approachable. Hebrews says that we can “boldly approach the throne of grace”. So worship tends to be really spontaneous for me. Maybe because the sunrise is stunning, and I worship Him for creation. Or He’s changed my attitude (which I tried and couldn’t) so I”ll thank Him and praise Him for His power.
I haven’t “arrived” in the realm of prayer, but I think it’s pretty cool that the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, a Holy God, listens to me and speaks to me. Talking to God can be fun!