Almost everybody prays at least some of the time. Many agnostics and atheists admit to having prayed! In certain situations prayer is the natural response we make. Often our prayers are simple cries for help in a time of need. Sometimes our prayers are heartfelt expressions of thanks.
It seems that we all have times in our life where we desire to talk about our pain and our joy with someone outside of our self, someone who understands and can help. It can be so satisfying to express real thanksgiving to God when something brilliant has happened. It really adds to our joy. And when we are facing something incredibly challenging, pouring out our heart to God, getting it off our chest, really helps us feel differently and often a bit better. It is also comforting to know that God hears every prayer and has the power to do something about the situation.
These are the types of prayers that most people make quite a lot of the time. Yet there is so much more to prayer. Christians are encouraged to be people that “pray without ceasing.” The prayer is not meant to be predominantly about asking for things but actually about developing a close relationship of love and trust. Just as we both listen and talk in our closest human relationships we are meant to do the same with God. If we are with a very close friend for a whole day we would not say hello to them at the beginning and goodbye at the end and then spend the entire day ignoring our friend – that would be so rude! We would, in fact, more than likely spend an awful lot of time chatting and listening, we would enjoy doing activities together and would probably have some time just sitting next to each other enjoying each others company and not particularly speaking. The idea of us praying without ceasing is just like this. It is a mixture of speaking and listening and enjoying Jesus being with us. If we can learn to live our lives with an almost constant connection to God it means that we received numerous benefits and the benefits overflow to others.
If we keep our connection to God through prayer throughout the day it means that we are open to the many ways he wants to guide us and speak to us. It can be really thrilling to be guided into a particular conversation at just the right time that makes a positive and transforming impact on the life of another. As we read the Bible we can discover so much more about Gods character and if we pray before, during and after reading we can often find that these ancient words can speak clearly and directly into our lives. It is exciting to sense a calling from God to pray privately for a particular person or situation and then the next day to discover that at that precise moment someone was going through a tough time and things suddenly improved! But most of all if we can learn to stay connected with Jesus all day long we get filled with so much of his love, compassion, kindness and grace that we begin to naturally share this with others.
At our church in Doncaster we have recently completed 10 days of intensive prayer for our community and world. As we have prayed we have realised just how precious a gift prayer is. We want to pray so much more because we know it makes a difference. We have already begun to see the difference. Our times of intensive and fervent prayer for situations to be changed will be strengthened if we can be people that learn to develop our prayer throughout the day as natural as having a conversation with a friend.
How about you? Are you ready for an adventure in prayer?