Prayer should define us
Prayer should define us. Last night I read the one-page opening chapter from the book What Every Child Should Know About Prayer by Nancy Guthrie. So simple, so straightforward, she starts her book by saying, “We share life with people around us by talking to them about things that matter to us and to them. In the same way, we share life with God by talking to Him about things that matter to us, and to Him.” Prayer is the only means we have to do that.
Those who call themselves Christians claim to know and love God. Yet prayer feels awkward and foreign. We shy away from it. There’s a disconnect here. If we know and love God, prayer should define us.
I’ve led corporate group prayer at women’s retreats and at our church, and I’ve had people tell me they’ve never prayed out loud before. I’ve had people tell me how awkward they feel about praying aloud, in front of others. I get that. Though people who know me may have a hard time believing this, I too often feel awkward in prayer. Somehow we feel that we have to sound spiritual or say the right words: people are listening, after all!
But if prayer is simply “sharing life with God by talking with Him about things that matter to us and to Him,” and if we are to love Him supremely over all, and if we believe (which we say we do) that God loves us supremely and cares about us, then prayer should define us. We share life with those we love. We open our hearts about things that matter, things that trouble us, things that bring us joy, things we struggle with, things we are learning, things we’ve accomplished, things we need help with. We do that by talking with them.
When we talk with others, we don’t deliberate a great deal over how it comes out or whether we’re using the right words—at least, not with those we know and love. At the beginning of a relationship we might do that. We feel a bit awkward at first. But to build a relationship, we push through that in order to become genuine friends. So it is with God. Prayer feels awkward at first for everyone (or certainly for most). But to know God, we must push through that, exploring and building a relationship.
There’s a verse in Hosea (6:3) that says, “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.” Yes, let us do that, individually and corporately—until prayer defines us.