Breathing comes naturally from birth. Prayer does not. Therefore, prayer has to be practiced, but not to become perfect. Why? Because your very first payer to your very last prayer are all perfect. Sounds like this is a contradiction? Ok… So let us put prayer in perspective.
Let us begin with Anne Cetas’ statement. “Prayer is a conversation with God, not a formula.” Think of a conversation with a friend. The topic of the conversation will change as circumstances and events in your life change. Some will be serious, and others will be trivial, not gossip, but light-hearted in nature and content. Depending on the closeness and intimacy between you and your friend, many words may not always be necessary. You may even reach the stage where you commune, heart-to-heart. In Jamaica and other countries where the main language has a more informal dialect counterpart (patois or creole), the closer the friendship, the greater the use of the informal dialect. All of this applies to our conversation with our Heavenly Father. ‘Im chat pat-wah.
But be careful. Sometimes we find ourselves in a “conversation” in which the other person does all the talking, and we struggle to get in a word edge-wise… or vice versa. This is also possible in our conversations with God, but ought not to be so. In fact, if we are smart, we will let Him do most of the talking, as we listen. He always speaks through His Word, frequently through His Holy Spirit, and if you are “lucky”, you might be privileged to physically hear His “still small voice”. Think of it like this. There is nothing that we can tell Him that he does not already know, and we can’t impress Him with our fancy words and well-constructed phrases. On the other hand, there is an endless amount of information that He has that we need, and do not have, and He wants to give us. And don’t worry, our garbled gibberish from the heart is good enough for Him. He will “fix it up” for us, receive it, and then respond (Romans 8:26). It makes sense to listen to God.
So why bother to talk to God at all, since He already knows everything? The best reason is that He wants us to talk with Him. Intimacy is cultivated by opening up ourselves, and exposing our vulnerabilities to those we trust and who we believe feel the same way about us. The truth is that both the “praise” and “petition” parts of prayer are designed for our benefit. The expression of gratitude in praise has positive psychological value for the grateful one, and predisposes the recipient to even greater generosity. Though not a direct quote, but it is accurate to say that God inhabits our praises. And with His permission, I will venture to opine, our praises make Him blush. Our petitions on the other hand, acknowledge our weakness and insufficiency on the one hand, and his omnipotence and all-sufficiency on the other hand. He loves that.
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org