I think its astounding that the only recorded request the disciples of Jesus actually made was for Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). Not to heal, not cast out demons, not walk on water, and not turn water into wine (I’d have thought that one would have topped the list!) It’s as if they understood that Jesus’ prayer life was central to all else; that communication with the Father was the key to all else that happened.
Now, I won’t pretend to understand how Jesus (God the Son) talking with His Father God works. But I do know that Jesus and His Heavenly Father shared and enjoyed a constant communication. All throughout the Gospels we’re told that Jesus would get away to be alone and pray (Luke 5:16). He also prayed publicly, and in the presence of His followers. He prayed for others, for Himself, and for us to name a few.
In the life of those who follow Jesus today, prayer can be seen as anything from a chore to a delight. Some view it was a “to-do” they must accomplish in order to stay on God’s good side. Some see it as a routine, falling in the same category as brushing your teeth. Some view it was a lifeline to reach for in times of crisis. Others see it as I have heard it put: “Prayer is to the believer as oxygen is to the lungs.” No matter where you are (if at all) on the continuum, there is one thing for sure: prayer is essential to the follower of Jesus.
The statement I’d like to make is that we may be in a place where we have idolized prayer, rather than seeing it as an organic result and key ingredient to a genuine relationship with God. When we say “prayer” we tend to think of heads bowed, eyes closed, fingers interlocked, and solemn silence. But what would happen if when we hear “prayer”, we think “conversation”. Most people would say, “Thanks, Captain Obvious.” because we understand prayer to be communication with God and even conversation with God, but I wonder how many converse with God as they do with any other close friend? What if I spoke with God as frequently as I speak to my wife? And worse, what if spoke with my wife as frequently as I speak with my Creator, King, and Father? Imagine going a day and NOT speaking to your spouse or that friend you can’t imagine going more than 24 hours talking to? I’d dare say that by lunch both of you would be painfully aware that something was not right. But I confess to you that even as as pastor, I can go much longer than a day without intentionally talking with the One who loves me more than anyone else does.
For the last several days, I’ve awakened with a conscious awareness of God’s desire to talk with me. It’s as if He’s sitting next to my bed waiting for me to wake up. My first thoughts after “Ugh, what time is it?” is along the lines of “Lord, I belong to you today. Let’s do this together. Use me however you want to. I’ll stick with you.”
When we view prayer more as conversation than sanctimonious pontification, we end up with a better view of a loving Father who is desperate to hear the sound of your voice…the voice He himself created.