Christians should always be interested in learning how to pray more effectively. The reason is simple: If our relationship with God is to be central relationship of our lives it must be nurtured by daily prayer.
There are many aspects of prayer. Here I would like to focus on the fact that prayer is an expression of a personal, all encompassing, and constant relationship with God.
Abba is the Jewish equivalent of ‘Daddy’. When I come home in the evening my daughter come toddling in to greet me, smiling and gurgling, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.’ To her that is an expression not so much of the precise nature of our relationship (she is not yet old enough to comprehend that) but of intimacy with me. She does not yet understand that I am her father, but she fully understands that I am her ‘daddy’. It is the same between God and us. We cannot fully comprehend the mysteries of the godhead, but we can still know that God is our Abba. We can bask in the intimacy and enjoy him.
God can hear our thoughts, so it is not primarily for his sake that we put them into words. It is for our sake. A husband who says to his wife, ‘Honey, I love you’, not only pleases her but also confirms that truth in himself. So it is with prayer. Actually hearing ourselves pray helps draw us into an experience of the intimacy we enjoy with God in a way that purely mental prayer does not.
Prayer needs opennessIt is also important for us to understand that we can be completely open with God. It is not as thought there were some segments of our life that were part of our relationship with God and others that were set apart. We can talk with him about anything and everything that is on our hearts.
When God adopts us into his family he adopts us in the totality of who we are. He doesn’t love just parts of us; he loves all of us. There is no part of our lives, however insignificant it might seem to us, with which God is not intimately familiar and about which he does not care deeply. As Paul explained to the men of Athens, in God “we live and move and have our being” (Acts. 17:28).
We often persuade ourselves that God’s love does not extend to this or that facet of our lives. Some things seem too small and insignificant; we don’t want to ‘trouble’ God. Some things seem too mundane; we don’t want to ‘waste God’s time’ with them. Some things seem so embarrassing we are too shy to talk about them with God, As if he didn’t already know all about them. Some things are so important to us we are almost reluctant to pray about them for fear God won’t hear us; we are afraid of being ‘let down.’
God helps us see how unnecessary; how foolish, such fears and apprehensions are. There is nothing too small for him, nothing too mundane, nothing we need hold back for fear of losing his love, nothing that could ever fall outside the bounds of his all encompassing love for us.
Just as husband and wife live out their lives against the backdrop of being married, so do we live out the entirety of our lives against the backdrop of a constant relationship with God. He is always there, always loving us, always ready to listen to us. As we recognize his unwavering commitment to us we are able to live in the day to day adventure and challenge of his presence.