Before, prayer was a religious exercise; something we made sure to check off our list each day. Many of us have read books on prayer and have done Bible studies on it. I, personally, remember the ACTS prayer. Maybe you’ve practiced it as well. A is for adoration, so first thing is to praise and adore the Lord. Then C is for confession, so next you confess your sins. T is for thanksgiving so after confession you spend time thanking the Lord, and then S is for supplication. So, lastly you pray for others and ask the Lord for things.
Can you imagine if all our conversations had to go through this process? Just think about it for a second. Every time you spoke with your husband you had to start by praising Him, then you had to confess anything you had done wrong, then you needed to thank Him for something, then you could ask him for something. Just imagine how remote and lifeless so much of what was said would be.
And that’s just one example of many different “methods” of prayer.
One brother used the analogy that praying is like breathing. After thinking on this for a few days it really began to resonate with me. Two things about breathing, in particular, stood out to me.
First, breathing is something we do continually and naturally. You don’t have to teach a baby how to breathe. Nor is breathing something we do only at certain times. Now, some of you just thought of Paul’s encouragement to pray with ceasing, but that wasn’t quite what I was thinking. What my experience has been is that prayer has become just as natural as breathing. Now, prayer isn’t a religious exercise, or something I do when life is tough, but a significant part of life just like breathing. Many times I am praying without conscientiously thinking about the fact that I am “praying”.
Prayer is truly happening in me all the time. Not because I have become so super spiritual and have disciplined myself to “pray without ceasing”, but because fellowshipping with the Lord is becoming my way of life. I believe that what I am experiencing isn’t meant to be rare or something for the spiritual elite, but God’s desire for all His children.
Also, my conversing with the Lord is very similar to how I speak with other humans. There is no need for fancy words or formal talk. Think about the disciples. Do you think they spoke with Jesus in a formal way when He was in the flesh? I sure don’t. I think they spoke with Him just like they spoke with each other. So, how do you think they spoke with Him when He came in the Spirit? Did they all of a sudden change their conversation style and begin speaking all religious and weird? I highly doubt it. They recognized their Lord in the Spirit and continued the same relationship they had before, only now, deeper and more full.
I was thinking about the way I used to speak to the Lord. It actually makes me cringe a bit.
Lord, thank you for your many blessings, Lord. Thank you for my family, and my good life, Lord, and Jesus, please take care of us. Jesus, please keep us healthy, Lord….
Did I think He was gonna forget I was talking to Him? It actually makes me a little nauseous to think that I was confident to pray with others or in a group because I “knew how to pray”. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Also, how weird would it be for me to talk to another human that way? Take R.C. for example:
R.C., I love you and thank you for asking me to be your wife, R.C.. and Husband, thank you for providing for us, R.C.. Mr. Babione, please find us a nice house to live in, R.C., and please put another load in the laundry, Husband, and have the kids empty the dishwasher…
Seriously? Who talks like that in real life? No one, that’s who. So why in the world would we think God wants us to talk to Him that way? Because we don’t really know Him and we have wrapped intimacy with the God of the Universe in so many religious bows we don’t even know what true intimacy with God looks like.
Well, guess what? He’s desperate to show us what true intimacy with Him looks like. We just have to lay down our religious trappings and bows and let Him.
Oh Saints, let’s let Him…
Have you come into a more natural way of conversing with the Lord? Have you been freed from a ritualistic method of speaking with God?
*I’ll share the second thing in pt. 2 next week