“Prayer is not a business transaction. We do not give something to get something in return. It is relational intimacy. In prayer, at our point of greatest need, we can encounter God and receive His presence.”
I read that quote in a devotional recently and it got me thinking. How often do I come to God with my needs & wants, all pitiful and beaten-down? I always try to begin my prayers with thanking God for who He is. For revealing Himself to us throughout His creation, revealing His heart in His Word, and in the very life on earth of His Son. But sometimes, I’m so needy, I forget to honor my God first. And how many times do I do the time-tested prayer of sinners: if You will do this, Lord, I will do that.
I often consciously try to talk to God in prayer while using the everyday vernacular. Instead of: “O Lord, Thou who sits high on Your lofty throne in the courts befitting the Ancient of Days,” I would rather say: “Lord, I’m thankful You have promised to hear my prayer, and I’m hurting today, God.” If you buy into the premise that God sees our heart, then a high-toned, pretentious cascade of vocabulary probably causes Him to shake His head and think to Himself: stop all of that blather…I’d rather hear what’s really going on in your heart, in your life, today. I don’t mean to take away any of the reverence due to the God of all creation, but I think it’s important for us to be ourselves in prayer. Using language we would employ if we were talking to a dear friend over coffee; a friend we can trust with our deepest secrets, hurts, and desires. If there’s any truth in the old song “What a friend we have in Jesus,” then I want to interact with Jesus like He IS my friend. My best and most loyal friend. “As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in His thoughts….” (Ps 40:17 NLT) All the while, keeping in my thoughts: I am His adopted son and He is my heavenly Father. I know I can trust Him, even with thoughts I can’t bring myself to share with anyone else on earth (Rom 8:15-16). And I take heart in the Bible’s promise that God will, in fact, forgive my sins and I can know in my heart I’m special to Him because He chose me as one of His own (Ps 65:3-4).
While I have a prayer list in my mind of people & things I want to pray for, I never want my prayers to become rote recitation that follow some script I’ve devised over the years. I want to have a conversation, I want to talk to my God.