Prayer. It’s not necessarily something that conjures up the most positive or enthusiastic thoughts. The word itself sounds a little dull, while the Oxford English dictionary definition relies on the use of the word ‘solemn’ to describe it. (“A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity.”) As a Christian, prayer is meant to be a significant feature of my faith – an opportunity to talk with the living God. I don’t think I’d refuse a chance to speak to the Queen or the Prime Minister, and yet so often I, like many, avoid praying or find it difficult.
Our spiritual enemy doesn’t want us to communicate with our Father, to ask for forgiveness or guidance or help. He wants us to stumble around in circles, depend on our own strength, get annoyed with others, and eventually give up on our faith altogether. He knows that good things happen when we pray and that there is power in prayer – so he’ll do everything to distract us from this very crucial activity that fuels our relationship with God.
But his ways are subtle – just as they have been since Eden, when he put doubt and questions into Eve’s mind. (“Did God really say?…”) He won’t try to stop us from praying altogether – rather, he’ll make it difficult, cumbersome, a burden. We start to think that we have to pray for a certain amount of time every day for it to be of any value; we think our prayers must be long and impressive. We assume that praying should take up lots of energy and focus, or we think we can’t possibly pray if we’ve messed up and feel distant from God. That would be hypocritical, right?
Jesus shows us the opposite of these thoughts. When teaching his disciples to pray, he kept it to a minimum – literally seven sentences (plus an ‘Amen’.) Not a lecture, not a rant, no wordy ramblings on. I’m reminded that prayer was never meant to be complicated; it’s simply keeping the lines of communication open with God and asking him to forgive us our transgressions. A hearty, meaningful prayer can take 35 seconds (that’s how long it took me to recite the Lord’s Prayer). 35 seconds!
We don’t need to be guilt tripped into not coming before God because of our failures; that’s precisely why we need to go to Him! We need God, we need his light and his life to help us through our daily struggles. And prayer is the door we can open to let his rays shine through and transform us. When we speak out words about His power, glory and supremacy above everything, our perspective changes and most of the small stuff we fret over fades away. Through prayer, I admit that I don’t have everything sussed and that I’m not in control of everything. Through prayer, God is lifted high and I acknowledge my dependence on Him.
A life can be changed and heaven can touch earth in less than a minute. What an amazing God!