Often times regardless of how long someone has been around the church or been engaged in a relationship with Jesus, they can be really overwhelmed by the idea of prayer. Sometimes that discomfort grows when we hear someone else pray and it is so eloquently strung together you aren’t sure if it was really a prayer or Shakespearean prose. To be honest I am not really simplifying prayer in as much as I am redirecting us to the real essence of prayer.
Relationships are founded and developed through communication. This is really important for us because we are not just trying to follow a set of rules that were written thousands of years ago. We are developing and growing in a real relationship with Jesus Christ. You cannot have a relationship with a spouse or friend without communication and a relationship with Jesus demands it as well. I believe that prayer could be the most important element in a growing relationship with Jesus.
Let’s loosen our grip on previous definitions and see the power of prayer in its beautiful simplicity.
- Listen! Maybe you have heard the saying, ‘God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.’ That is not in the Bible anywhere but it does pack a punch. Any growing relationship demands listening. I believe Paul had this in mind when giving his final instructions to the church in Thessalonica and said, ‘pray without ceasing.’ He was admonishing them to have a lifestyle marked by prayer. If you struggle with prayer, try beginning your prayer time with listening through reading a passage of scripture and then respond to it freely to the Father.
- Be Yourself! Remember the post God Created You to be You? Prayer really works the same way. If the word transubstantiation doesn’t find its way into your weekly vocabulary then you don’t need to force it into your pray time. Further, unless you’re one of these people who really feel at home participating in the local Renaissance and Medieval Festivals you shouldn’t be trying to force ‘thee’ and ‘thy’ into your prayer time.
- Pray The Word! Some of the most invigorating prayer times that I experience are the ones when I am praying the promises of scripture. Take a Psalm and begin to pray those words. You will find that you see applications and areas of your life where the words of scripture make sense. Use the words of scripture as a spring board to propel you into authentic places of your heart. Take a passage of scripture that is instructive and take each idea you read to the Lord in confession or with a request for guidance.
- Enjoy His Presence! Prayer is listening… it is communicating… but it should often be silence. The presence of God dwells within His children. With all distractions removed, learn how to enjoy just sitting in the presence of your Savior. Learn to enjoy the silence of sitting still and KNOWING that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
Remove all of the other complications and just start here. Once you find a rhythm here, you can begin to look at all of the models of prayer that we have throughout scripture and begin to grow deeper through studying those (Matthew 6:5-14 is a great place to start).
Have you truly experienced the value of prayer in your life? If not, what obstacles stand in your way?
Matt Powell serves as teaching pastor at Crossings Community Church, a body of believers whose mission is to engage, equip, and empower homes for gospel transformation in Katy, TX.