Hi Friends, this is a rather lengthy post I wrote a long while ago. I’d like to share it here, for those who need a greater understanding on prayer… Thanks for reading and sharing.
I started this write up thinking that prayer should be the easiest thing to do, but by the end of it, I decided that there is a need to have ‘Conversations With God Part II’! It is not that prayer is complicated, but because it is about COMMUNICATION, it really isn’t as simple as all that. There are many books about communication, many facets to communication, and many considerations for effective communication. So, it makes sense that communication with God will also require some understanding. There are different types of communication with God, and the primary one is personal prayer, which everyone desiring a gainful relationship with Him should do and develop.
Even though prayer is not all that simple, it isn’t so complex either. It is right that we ask how to pray. The disciples also asked Jesus, and He didn’t mock or chastise them (Luke 11:1). They’d seen so many different people from different religions pray to God in so many different ways, and the whole thing just seemed confusing to them. It can be the same for us. I think that for most people, prayer is like a towering mountain that they don’t know how to climb, but a lot of people can’t admit that they need help or guidance on how to pray. The fact that it is a very personal experience also makes people afraid to seek counsel or share their challenges, lest they might be criticised.
However, there are many natural abilities we develop through study. Even consider sex! Many marriages are saved by reading good educational books about sex. Marriage counselling is also important and sought by many couples because they realise that something that should come so natural to them, i.e. communication, can be rather tricky and challenging. So they seek help, and read books on how to better communicate with and understand each other. All abilities also need practice to be perfected, otherwise, not only will you not improve – you’re also likely to lose that ability!
My decision to write this post arose from a prayer time I was having. Even though my zeal for the Lord has recently been re-awakened, I found my prayer life to still be limited. Because I thought it was simple, I didn’t make much effort to develop it. I wanted to be moved by my emotions in prayer, but I have learnt that prayer really isn’t about my emotions. In fact, I should check them at the door. However, recognising that I need more understanding, I asked God to teach me how to pray. He showed me that prayer is in fact a conversation, and needs to be approached and handled as such. The way we approach prayer determines, and is determined by, our relationship with God; how we perceive Him and receive Him. Everyone’s experience will differ. I received God’s leading to write ‘Conversations With God’, which I would write by His inspiration daily for one week.
Prayer is a skill that can and must be developed, and the best teacher is God Himself! Just like the best person to teach you how to make love, is your partner! After all, he or she is the one you are trying to please. However, though it needn’t be daunting, it is true that religious people make it so, as many see it as an avenue to show off their righteousness. They are like the Casanova who thinks he is such a good lover and ‘makes love’ to satisfy his pride, whether or not his many partners are satisfied. If you are trying to please anyone other than God when you pray, you are a Casanova, and He is not at all moved by your performance. But if your desire is to please Him, even if you are inexperienced, He will rejoice at your effort, and gently show you how you can go higher with Him.
If you, like me, have struggled with this issue of prayer, then I hope I can minister to you through this post. If you are doing just fine in your prayer life, you should still read on, and perhaps you can help shed some clarity by your comments. Let us edify one another in love (Rom 14:19, 1 The 5:11).
Generally (not in all occasions), I see prayer as a long running (or series of) conversation/s with God. There are also communal prayers (which won’t be discussed here) and other irregular prayers (e.g. praying in tongues and prophesying). When you have a conversation with somebody, you initiate (build on) a relationship with that person. And when you speak with them again, you will (consciously or not) make reference to your initial (previous) conversation, so that you do not need to re-introduce yourself, or speak as if you don’t know anything about this person. If you are really having a conversation, you will hear what the other person has to say as well. In the study of Communications we learn that communication is only said to be complete when both sides have received information from each other, even if the response is only an acknowledgement that the message transferred by the initiator has been received. Prayer requires speaking and listening to God.
Now, there are different types of conversations. The differences are based on; firstly, the personalities involved, then the nature of the relationship, then the relationship level, then the circumstance and then finally, the emotion (or mood). The way you converse with your long-time lover in times of peace, will be different from times of strife. It will be very different from how the conversation would go if you only just started your relationship and were experiencing trials. You would also have a different conversation with a neighbour bothering you late at night, than you would with your brother. Conversations can change relationships from good to bad, bad to worse or from bad to better too (by the emotion (angry or loving) we bring in our communication)!! However, different circumstances require that you adjust (reset) your mood (emotion), so as not to make a situation worse by being faithless, accusing or angry. This aspect of mood – which affects our tone, pitch and general presentation (non-verbal communication) – says more than the content of our communication. Checking your mood shows that you are considerate and respectful. If you have good conversations with someone, you will have a better relationship, and your conversations will take on a new level!