If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
(John 14:14 NRSV)
At the heart of a living relationship with God is prayer.
The problem is that so many of us take such an individualistic consumer approach to prayer that when things don’t go our way, we assume that prayer doesn’t work and we give up.
But I have seen prayer work, and I have seen lives changed by prayer, including my own.
But what is prayer, and why bother to pray? Well, many books continue to be written on the subject and there are a whole range of prayer and spiritual disciplines.
In a nutshell, though, prayer is our conversation with God. In healthy prayer, just as in a healthy conversation with other people, we talk and we listen. If I am having a conversation with my wife, I don’t think I would be all that popular if I am doing all the talking. That’s especially true if all my talk is about the list of things I want her to do for me!
No, if our relationship means all that it should, we will talk, listen, and sometimes just sit quietly and enjoy each other’s company. And If I want our relationship to continue to grow and develop I will make sure that I take an interest in the things that are important to her. Finally, neither of us would ask the other to do something which was clearly not right for them, or not in character.
Our prayer life can be similar. Through it each of us can grow in our spiritual relationship with God. Yes, we can lay our burdens before him, and we can make our requests in prayer, but how much better it is to take God seriously enough to want to get to know him better along the way.
Just talk to God, anywhere, any time. Don’t use religious language; just tell him what’s on your heart. And take the time to listen, too.
Jesus said, “Ask anything in my name.” – and the clue is in those words: “in my name.”
Prayer is not the presentation of a shopping list of demands to God. It is the cornerstone of our relationship with him, and a means by which our lives can be transformed.
teach me to pray,
teach me to talk, to listen and to keep silent.