In the scriptures we read: “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:16. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, said, “Prayer is the grand means of drawing near to God.”
Both of these statements are true. My heart knows it. I believe it. And while sometimes it’s easy to bring my whole self to God in prayer, other times it’s just the opposite. On occasion, I feel like my prayers aren’t reaching God–when my motivations aren’t convincing enough for God to give my petitions a second glance. And yet, I’ve had experiences while praying when I get lost in wonder and praise. The hands of the clock stop, the world seems to stand still, and I know without a shadow of doubt that I am in the Lord’s presence.
What is it about prayer that both draws us in and at the same time, makes us want to recoil? What is it about prayer that rouses our hearts to run toward it, and at the same time, tiptoe toward it–around it–and sometimes don’t make it there at all?
The more I seek to deepen my life with God, the more questions I have about prayer. Is this true for you?
There are many things I can say about prayer and what it does in the lives of those who engage in the practice of it, however, I believe the most life-giving things for us to know and believe is: Prayer is the path of love for the strong and the weak; the wise and the simple; the ‘has’ and the ‘has-nots’. Prayer isn’t about beating ourselves up, telling God over & over how bad we are, but rather drawing close to the One who created us and loves us unconditionally. And most importantly, prayer is relationship; it is a means of grace that helps us cultivate a deeper, wider, more loving relationship with our Father in Heaven.
One of my favorite authors, Richard Foster, is a leading voice in the practice of prayer. He writes: “Real prayer does not come by gritting our teeth, but from falling in love with God.” To that, I say “AMEN.”