Is it just me or does prayer seem somewhat like a paradox… it is simple to understand that we should be in communication with God but when we go to put it into practice it becomes so much harder. We are told to pray daily but when time gets busy it is the first thing that gets put on the side. We have a hundred excuses as to why we don’t have time to pray and I am as guilty as everyone else if not more. This is where my need to be more like Mary comes in (check out our post, Mary Has It Right (mychristianwalk.com)).
We blame our business and say that our increased connectivity causes us to be unable to really connect to only one thing at a time. Although I do believe that social media and our ability to always be connected caused many problems, I don’t believe this is the root of the issue. No, this issue has been affecting believers since the beginning of the relationship between humans and Jesus. We know this because there is documented evidence of the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to talk to God. In Luke 11:1-4, the disciples asked Jesus how to speak to God and this was His response.
“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.’ "
I know you are probably thinking this is going to be another long-winded discussion about the Lord’s Prayer and what we can learn from it but I will save that for another time. What I want to focus on is that the Disciples, the men we know to be Jesus’ best friends and companions, didn't even know how to speak to God. They asked Jesus like many other disciples had asked their teacher before them to teach them how to speak to God. This scripture illustrates that we are not the only ones who have questions about prayer and our relationship with God. We are in good company with those who knew Jesus best and we have to constantly work on our prayer life.
To better understand prayer we need to start at the beginning and simplify the process. Prayer is as simple as talking with God. It is the act of opening the door and letting God into your house/heart/life that is filled with excitement, needs, wants, dreams, fears, and all of the other things that clutter our minds. Just like any other relationship we have to talk in order to have a real relationship. We can’t expect to have a surface-level relationship with God while we are on earth and then an intimate, come and eat at my table relationship with Him in Heaven. This is not how a relationship works. Since prayer is simply a conversation that helps build and develop our relationship with God. It allows Him in so that we can develop a deeper relationship that grants us a seat at His table. In order to do that we have to be real with God and allow Him to be real to us. This means sharing everything with Him but it also means not always liking His answer to our prayers or having to accept that God is calling us to do something difficult. This is where we build trust that God will not fail us even when things get hard.
As I stated before there are so many things that hold us back from having that real conversation with God. I think that first off we feel that we don’t know how to talk to God or we are afraid we might do it wrong. The great thing is that there are no actual rules for this conversation. So if you are happy, tell Him, if you are sad, tell Him, if you are upset, tell Him, and yes even if you are angry… tell Him. Some believe that it is wrong to raise our voices or to get angry at God but in reality, God already knows we are mad and by hiding that from Him we are hindering our possible relationship growth. Think about it this way, when you are angry with a loved one do you keep it bottled up and never address the concern? I sure hope not because we know from years of research that is not healthy physically and emotionally to keep it bottled up. The same is true when it comes to our relationship with God, if we keep our anger locked away we will grow resentment toward Him and it can destroy our relationship. It is completely okay to be angry at God as long as you voice that anger to Him and work towards an agreement. God would rather have the hard conversation than never have a conversation with you again.
Secondly, I think that we are afraid to question God and His plan for us. We get that idea from many churches that teach it is a sin to question God. Just as a child asks nearly a million questions a day to better understand the world around them so should we. We are just like those children, we live in a world that doesn't make sense to us and as such we have so many questions. It will never make complete sense to us so we should always have questions to be asked. If you don’t believe me then take this lesson from the ultimate teacher, Jesus. On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus prayed to His Father in Matthew 26:39 and said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” He knew that it was out of His control but He still questioned that He would have to suffer. He plead with God one last time to allow the cup to pass so He didn’t have to suffer. We know Jesus to be completely sinless so this proves that questioning God and pleading a different path is not a sin. It is not a bad thing to have questions because it means that you care enough to try to understand the ways of the Lord.
With all of that being said, I hope that you better understand that the only wrong way to talk to God, which is to not do it at all. He is open and ready to listen and talk to you. Please remember that prayer is not as complicated as we make it and if it seems too difficult it is probably because we are making it too complex. Just simply open up and speak but make sure to also listen.