Will you pray for me? And of course you say, “Sure.” What else can you say? It wouldn’t be Christian to say, “No.” But what does praying for me mean? Am I asking you to talk to God about my situation—on my behalf, in my place, because He isn’t paying attention to me?
At a rudimentary level, does prayer work? And more pointedly, will you pray if I ask you?
Concerning prayer, I have far more questions than I have answers. Still, there is plenty to know about prayer. In fact, there is more than enough to confidently engage in its practice.
Fundamentally, prayer is communication with God.
With that though, we are already challenged. Think for a moment about the things people around the world are doing to get God’s attention: blowing themselves up, wailing, burning themselves, killing their babies, starving themselves, striving for perfection, buying favor, giving their money away. Oy!
Here we are—followers of Christ Jesus. Our God, who wishes to be called “Father,” has come to us (versus requiring us to get to Him), cleared the way of obstacles to get our attention, engaged us in dialogue, and stated without equivocation that His highest desire is to communicate with us.
“Pray,” God says. “Pray all the time.”
This means, first of all, showing up. Note that He is already at the meeting site, i.e. life.
Note as well, prayer encompasses both talking and listening. Most of us are stronger on the talking part than we are on the listening part. As if to underscore the takeaway point, our Creator gave us one mouth and two ears.
Prayer with God embodies the same principles of communication I have with all of the important people in my life. Nothing more, nothing less. He wants to hear from me, and I want to hear from Him. That’s it. He has in mind relational dialogue.
Prayer can be persuasive, but it must be more than that. If every conversation we have is a sales pitch, persuading you to adopt what I would like, it won’t be long before you quit listening when I open my mouth.
There is a viable aspect of communication that is persuasive, but relational communication must be broader than supplication regarding my perspectives. No one wants to be a bore. At least, I don’t think anyone does. We sure do a lot of supplicating when we pray, come to think of it.