Prayer is simple, really. We are the ones who over-complicate it. We assume that we have to get it just right, or that God is more concerned about our vocabulary than He is our heart.
Prayer can be words spoken–but they might just be thoughts that are formed and directed at God.
My prayer life was changed when I finally came to realize that God, in His infinite mercy, cared more about my attitude in prayer than He did the action of prayer. Let me explain. Spending a set amount of time in prayer on a daily schedule develops discipline, to be sure–but having an attitude of prayer all throughout the day fosters devotion.
My husband and I started dating when we were seniors in high school. We had been dating only 6 months when he went away to college–four hours away. The miles between us made communication difficult in those days before cell phones and email. Yes, of course we had a telephone, but the cost was significant and we had to keep our conversations short and sweet and always call after 11:00 p.m. when the per-minute rates were cheapest.
Communication was crucial, but it was not something we did because we felt like we should, or because we were obligated to. We craved those intimate moments when we could re-connect and recharge our relationship. Young and in love, we looked forward to those short phone calls and even counted down the minutes until the clock struck 11, but it was never enough. Even when our lives were filled with other things–job, school, sports or even family, there was an emptiness as long as we were apart. Our thoughts didn’t just shift into gear when it was time for a phone call. You can bet that often during the day we would pine away for each other, wishing for an easy way to communicate and stay in touch more often. So we would write letters. We did whatever we could to stay connected. (Why didn’t someone invent the cell phone in the 1980’s?!)
As I learn to communicate with my Heavenly Father on a regular basis, not just in blocks of time in the morning or evening, I become even more dependent on Him. I am instinctively drawn into conversation with Him as I go through my day, and as I recognize His presence and His power, I am refreshed and renewed. Recharged. Ready to face the day, because I know that
He loves me–He is for me–and He will go before me.
When life crowds in and demands fill my calendar, I find myself craving fellowship with Him even more. Filling my mind and heart with His Word, I find that even in the busy-ness of life I can enjoy quiet moments with Him. Whisper prayers become common as I do the dishes, or make the bed or drive my car. Songs of praise often fill my mind as I start a load of laundry, or in the middle of the night as I rest in His promises and turn Him in prayer.
Don’t you see? Our God is a personal God. He knows you better than you know yourself. He doesn’t just call you “His own” [John chapter 10] and then leave you to yourself. He waits for you to call. His desire for you is more than just an obligatory or ritualistic going-through-the-motions-general-type-of-prayer.
God doesn’t just want you to carve out time for Him–He wants you to crave time with Him.
I have to interject here, that it will only happen as you choose to spend more time reading His Word. As you discover more of Who He is, the more you will love your Savior. This is not a romantic love, but it is the type of love that draws you. Compels you. Completes you. More than anyone or anything else ever could.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Just do it. Remind yourself to go to God as a first response, not as a last resort. Following Jesus example, we must call on our Sovereign God who can and will hear us when we pray. One of my favorite prayers is found in John 17. Just before His betrayal, Jesus is praying for Himself, for His disciples, and for all believers. His words are not fancy, but they are specific. I love praying scripture, and this prayer is one that I go to often.
I personally don’t think He minds at all if we are praying simple prayers. Some of the sweetest prayers I have ever heard are the prayers of my young children and grandchildren: honest, simple prayers that are confident that a loving God is listening, and that He will answer.
“Then children were brought to Him so He might put His hands on them and pray. But the disciples rebuked them. Then Jesus said, ‘Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.’” Matthew 19:13-14
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