Prayer. There is so much that can be said about it. Countless books have been written on this very topic. What is prayer? How should we pray? Does God even hear our prayers? Does prayer really work?
It’s an odd thing isn’t it? That we can find praying to God very complicated. But was it ever meant to be, you know… complicated?
I used to believe prayer was this incredibly difficult and complex task that took serious amounts of theological study to understand. After all, even the disciples had to ask Jesus how they should pray:
11 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” - Luke 11:1 (ESV)
It’s easy to walk away from this event thinking prayer is some sort of mysterious task or Jedi force one must tap into in order to be heard. But what a lot of people miss, is that before Jesus arrived on the scene the Jews had intercessors operating on their behalf. Remember the prophets and more specifically the priests? And while the Bible does give us examples such as David praying and singing praises to God, Israel as a whole had been operating under a system that placed people between them and God.
When Jesus arrived on the scene as our final Prophet, Priest and King, the Jews had to learn how they could individually approach God. If you remember the answer Jesus gave to the disciples question, it wasn’t complicated.
2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” - Luke 11:2–4 (ESV)
This simple prayer is a prayer that signals worship, praise, dependence and repentance. When we pray, it is less about the amount of words or time in a dark room. It is more about the position of our hearts. When we pray, it is less about what God can give us and more about what has already been given to us. When we pray, it is less about having a request filled and more about establishing a deeper relationship with our Creator.
Over the years I’ve learned that many, many Believers struggle with prayer. I used to as well. And it’s not because it’s complex. It’s because we have turned it into something it was never meant to be in an attempt to extract the greatest personal benefits.
Prayer is more like an offering of ourselves to our Creator. If I had to give a visual I would remind you of Isaac who was about to be sacrificed. There was Abraham, fully trusting in the Lord that whatever happened he could still depend on the Lord. That it was God’s universe and God was in control. That Abraham was owed nothing and what was given - Isaac - belonged to God anyway. There was a deep seated understanding between the creation and Creator.
Here’s another example that may help paint the picture a bit. Prayer can be seen as Christ on the cross. Offering Himself up into the Father’s hands so that His will could be done regardless of the outcome. It is the ability to worship, praise, depend on and repent all within a single moment in time. Of course, Jesus did not repent nor did He need to, however, He did carry our sins on His back.
In both of the aforementioned examples I hope you can see that prayer is less about requests or if God is listening, and more about trusting God in your relationship with Him.
I often tell the story of how God spared my life from a pretty bad motorcycle accident. Every day I would pray that God would keep me from breaking any bones or losing any skin if I was to go down. I rode for years offering up this prayer every time I got on my motorcycle. The one day I forgot to pray - as I was running late - I was hit by a car doing over 50 miles per hour. Miraculously, I suffered no broken bones and lost no skin. But the impact was so incredible my motorcycle could not be pried away from the hood of the car at the scene. Yes, I should be dead. But God kept me here for a reason. Hmm…I wonder what that could be? 🙃
Each day I rode I knew it was possible that I would not make it back home. But each day I rode I fully trusted God. We had a relationship and an understanding; me being the creation and Him the Creator. All I could do was ask, realizing that my life is His. Realizing all He had done for me up to that point. Realizing that I deserved nothing good. Realizing that He was worthy of all praise and worship. Realizing I’m His creation and that I needed Him. And still do.
To this day my heart keeps the same position. Life is short. And so when I pray I don’t wait for a specific opportunity or time of day. I talk to my God all day, every day. I think about my God, all day, every day. Our relationship is far more important than my requests. But when I submit anything to the Lord, it is with the same simplicity in understanding Christ communicated to His disciples. Worship, praise, dependence and repentance. My hope is that you adopt the same position of heart to fully experience God when you pray.