What is prayer? How do you think of it? And what emotions are attached to it? Joy, guilt, frustration.
What images come to mind when you think of prayer? Maybe it’s of a vending machine, where if you put the right thing in and press the correct buttons we get what we prayed for? Or perhaps it’s the image of a child trying desperate to persuade and cajole and maybe even manipulate an unwilling parent into giving them what they want. Or we might think of prayer like a prescription medication we need to clear up a specific problem, but which we stop taking when that problem has cleared up. Which of those is closest to how you think about prayer? And if you’re really honest which is closest to actually describing your prayer life?
We often hear prayers in church, we may see others pray, but what is prayer and how do we pray? If you’re a new or young believer how do we learn to pray? What is prayer? Prayer is God’s children calling on him to fulfil his promises. Just listen to that again; Prayer is God’s children calling on him to fulfil his promises. Isn’t that striking! It is less about me and us and more about God. It makes prayer both easier and harder.
Disciples pray. It should be as natural for a follower of Jesus to pray as it is for a child to talk to their father. But it’s hard because as followers of Jesus we know that there is a battle to turn away from ourselves and our interests and wants and comforts. As disciples we’re still prone to ask selfishly, to want to co-opt God to build our kingdom not his. We battle to be dependent not independent, to seek his will not our will. Disciples pray, but how can we learn to pray and pray better?
It’s worth stopping and taking stock of your prayer life as we start. How do you think of prayer? How do you feel about your prayer life? What do you think a healthy prayer life looks like? What do you wish your prayer life was like?