So, I don’t “get” prayer. I mean, I do it – I pray quite a bit. But, I don’t really understand it. I’ve been a Christian for almost 32 years now, and prayer still perplexes me. Why? Here’s why:
- All 6+ billion of us here on Earth can pray to the same One God.
- Any space aliens (a la’ Madeleine L’Engle or C.S. Lewis) can also pray to Him (I assume).
- At the same time.
- And God listens.
- And answers – although not always the way we want, apparently.
- You can pray at home, in the car, in the bathtub, anywhere.
- You can sing, yell, say, or think your prayers.
- There are prayers in the Bible to use as examples.
- Many people (myself included, at times) pray specific prayers at specific times (The Daily Office).
- You can pray completely spontaneously.
- Jesus prayed to the Father – even though He was the Son.
- When we can’t figure out what to pray, the Holy Spirit helps us out. (Romans 8:26)
- Our prayers are in bowls in Heaven (Rev. 5:8).
I pray more now in the last three years than I have in my entire life, but I understand it less. Crazy, huh?
I used to think that prayer was something that I was supposed to do first thing in the morning during my quiet time out on the porch with a cup of coffee, my Bible, a notebook, and a Bible study book from Lifeway. Then, I’d have that little chore taken care of till the next day. There are a few problems with that scenario: I don’t do mornings (my devotional times now are after everyone else is in bed), I don’t have a porch, I don’t drink coffee, and I rarely use Bible study books (I generally just use a commentary). Then there’s the huge problem that the entire picture is something cultural that God never actually intended.
Prayer is something far more mysterious and powerful than just something to do with your morning coffee!! Now that I’ve given up the silly stereotypes, I’ve learned much, much more about communicating with God. Mostly, I’ve learned that it’s a privilege and an honor and not a duty to be crossed off my list.
Sadly, I think chronic pain has been the impetus to my truly learning to pray. I wish I had learned sooner – and under less dire circumstances. Nonetheless, the last three years have taught me so much in terms of communicating with God that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. There’s much I don’t understand, but much more that I enjoy despite (or, perhaps, because of) the mystery. I’ll probably be sharing more of my thoughts about prayer in the future, so stay tuned. In the meantime, pray without ceasing!!