Written by Jolene DeHeer, Classis Prayer Coordinator.
I would like to begin by getting you thinking through these questions.
- How would you finish this sentence: “Prayer is____________”?
- Or what three words would you use to describe prayer?
There are many correct responses to those questions as prayer is multifaceted and unique to different individuals. Theologians and religious authors have written hundreds of books to explore prayer. I make no pretext about even beginning to delve into the depths of all that prayer is and can be. However, I would like to ask you to consider one aspect of prayer that can influence how we approach it: the thought that prayer is a relationship. It is the opportunity to build an intimate relationship between a loving Heavenly Father and His adopted and deeply loved child – you.
I invite you to explore some aspects of healthy relationships that also pertain to prayer.
A healthy relationship requires spending time with each other.
Out of a 24-hour day (1,440 minutes) how much time do you spend with God? Studies have shown that the average Christian spends 3-4 minutes a day in prayer. That makes is very difficult to build a strong relationship. Imagine if that was all the time you spent with your spouse, family, or friends. You probably wouldn’t know them very well. If you would like to deepen your relationship with God, I offer you this suggestion: begin by committing to pray at least five minutes a day. When that become a habit, add five more minutes. When that is a habit, add five more…and so on. I have found that as the length of time I spend in prayer grows, so does my love for God and my desire to spend more time.
A healthy relationship requires conversation – two-way conversation.
Too often our prayers are only us talking to God. We thank Him, praise Him, confess to Him, and ask Him to meet our needs, but how much time do we spend letting Him talk to us? And He is speaking, you know. The Bible is the living word of God. In it He communicates His love and His plan for our lives. I have found that reading small portions of scripture through several time as I ask God what He wants to say to me, helps me listen. The spiritual practice of Lectio Divina has been a huge help. Additionally, God speaks to us through others and through creation. Our job is to slow down and to intentionally listen. Next time you are in nature, ask God what He wants to say to you through what you see in creation….and listen.
A healthy relationship is a place where we experience acceptance…just as we are.
There is no place like the presence of God where that is truer. When the culture, family, or friends make us feel like we aren’t measuring up, we need to run into prayer into the presence of God because He is always there with arms wide open to receive us just as we are. I have a saying by my computer that I use to remind me of this beautiful truth: “The words and actions of others may damage my spirit, but they can never destroy it! God’s truth still prevails I will always be loved. I will always have value. I will always be loved by the One who matters most!”
A healthy relationship is one where you know you are loved.
Prayer is the one place I can be sure to find the love we all long for. When I go into prayer, I imagine myself walking into a space filled with majesty and glory which is emanating from the one piece of furniture there, the throne of God where seated and ruling with power and might. As I approach the throne, God reaches down, scoops me up in His arms, sits me on His lap and holds me close to His chest. I feel valued, cherished, safe and I know I am loved – not so much because of who I am, but because of who He is. My prayer is that you, too, will experience the beauty of finding a strong, healthy, life-giving relationship in prayer.