Prayer: A Relationship

Posted on July 22, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Why is prayer so difficult? Why does it feel like we are just talking into the air and no one is listening? Why does our mind wander and thoughts about other things infringe on our efforts to focus on God? Preparing to lead a prayer conference at my church, Morrison Heights, I have had an opportunity to review my own experiences and insights into this important spiritual discipline.

Discipline? Actually, that is a big part of the problem. Prayer is not a discipline but a relationship. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  How do we appropriate God’s armor and walk in constant victory? It comes by “praying at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication.” That doesn’t mean we are talking with God 24/7 but that we are always in a relationship with the Father in which prayer comes as natural as breathing.

We know we ought to pray. We are often encouraged to begin each day with a devotional quiet time of prayer and meditation. We have read books and heard testimonies of others who testified of  a meaningful prayer life. Honestly, I never found that to be helpful; it just made me feel more guilty and unspiritual in my efforts to emulate others.

The reality is that anything we try to do on our own with regard to the Christian life is bound to fail. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Whether witnessing to the lost, trying to have a disciplined prayer life, or consistently reflecting a Christlike character, if it is dependent on our own efforts we are going to fail.

When we come to faith in Christ we enter into a relationship with God that is personal and intimate. We should be aware of His presence at all times. We are told to address Him as “Abba, Father.” We talk with Him as we would a loving, merciful father, confident His desire is to bless us, guide us, strengthen us, give us wisdom from above and provide for our every need.

No human relationship is adequate to compare to that which we have with our heavenly Father, but there is no more intimate earthly relationship than that with my wife. We live together all the time. She wants to know my thoughts, my plans, my aspirations. I can share with her my burdens and concerns, knowing I will find support and encouragement. I want to do everything I can to meet her expectations and do whatever will bless her. When I get up in the morning, the first words I want her to hear is, “I love you.” And that is the last thing she hears at night.

Should not our relationship with God be like that? We don’t pray because we ought to, we have been instructed to and that’s something we have to do to be a good Christian. We pray because it is a natural communication with One with whom we have a personal, intimate relationship.

If we are not inclined to a consistent, fulfilling time of communion with God, it may not be because of a lack of discipline, weakness in our dedication, or not knowing how to pray. It may reflect a deficiency in our relationship that needs to be restored.

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