Prayer. What does that look like? For many of us it is a ritualistic poem that we say before meals, or when we go to church. There is an emptiness to this ritual, but there doesn’t seem to be anything else to say. Other times, we call out to God, “Help me, I can’t do this anymore, and I’ll do anything if you just answer this cry for help”. Then we forget this prayer as soon as the situation abates. We might be left with a sense that the prayer was answered, but that’s as far as it goes.
Prayer sounds like it can be difficult, especially when we think that there needs to be a formula. We want to reach out, and connect to God, but the formality of it just gets in the way. But, when we have Jesus in our hearts, there is a totally different dynamic. He is the God of relationships, and conversation. When He walked the earth 2000 years ago, He spent His time talking to His disciples, to the crowds that followed Him, and also His own Father in heaven. He was the one who everyone could approach, and it didn’t matter what was going in that person’s life. He sat and talked to the outcasts, the sinners, and the ones that no one else would talk to. So, we can’t let sin get in the way of our conversation with Him. He sees everything, and understands everything. He knows what is in our heart before we even open our mouths. If we think that He doesn’t want us to talk to Him because we are living in something shameful, and we think we can hide from Him, it doesn’t help…we are just building walls. And these walls just grow, as we build this barrier between us and a true relationship with Jesus.
So, what does this conversation look like? Jesus talked about prayer a lot, and His disciples finally asked Him for a formula.
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation. ”(Luke 11:1-4 NLT)
This passage is called “The Lord’s Prayer”, and is often chanted in ritualistic style, and some people think that this is good enough. And yes, it can be enough, if it is said with intention. In this prayer we are first praising God, then we are petitioning for our daily needs. We also ask Him to keep us from temptation, and do we really mean it? We often pray to be taken away from the consequences of what we’ve done because we have succumbed to temptation, but wouldn’t it be good to ask Him to keep us from temptation in the first place? He can, and He will, if we ask.
And that is what prayer is. A conversation. With Jesus. When we have a relationship with another person, it takes talking and listening. When we love someone, we want to spend all our time with that person. Wouldn’t it make sense that our relationship with Jesus would be the same?
A constant conversation.
Prayer is a conversation with Jesus.
Just start talking. Out loud, in your car, in your bathroom, on a walk, in your heart. Tell Him that you love Him. And ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him for love, for strength, for patience, and for peace.
He’s there. Listening, and talking to you as well.