By: Brian Williams.
Theologian and author Stanley G. Grenz once wrote in his book, Prayer, the Cry for the Kingdom, “The greatest challenge that we face today is the challenge to pray. Meeting this challenge requires that we merely cease talking about prayer and begin to pray.”
I agree with Grenz. Knowing how to pray will make an incredible difference in our relationship with God and also in our lives.
Look at it this way. Imagine you’re a young, single man and you’ve just asked the girl in your accounting class for a date because you’re genuinely interested in getting to know her. The two of you agree to meet at your favorite coffee shop to chat. When you’re finally sitting across from her, sipping a mug of steaming mocha latte, you ask, “How do you think you did on the test this morning?” She shrugs. “Fine.”
“So, tell me about your family?”
“Not much to say, really.”
“How are your classes going?”
It’s so quiet you can hear the crickets chirping.
Can you imagine how you would feel if the conversation stayed on this level, especially when you knew this interesting young woman was holding back? You would have to wonder if she was bored, really didn’t want to hang out with you, or perhaps was just nervous. Regardless of the reason, if the conversations between the two of you stayed forever stalled, it would be difficult to grow a deeper friendship.
Imagine your prayer life following this example. Maybe that’s not so difficult to imagine because all you ever pray is an old line like, “God, bless me and mine. Amen.”
If this is you, know you’re not alone in your struggle to communicate with God. But regardless, it’s hard to build a deeper relationship with God when your prayer life is stuck in neutral. Sure, God still loves you, but think of all you’ll miss by not becoming more invested in your relationship with him.
But what if the problem is that you really don’t feel comfortable talking to God and you worry you might say the wrong thing to him. I can understand this concern. I mean, God is the most awesome and powerful being in the universe. But treating God like a stranger you just met on the subway is not the answer. Perhaps what you really need is a few basic conversation starters, such as these prayer ABCs:
Let him know you’re thinking about him. “Hi, Lord. I love you. Would you go into my day with me?”
Tell him about your concerns or needs. “Lord, I’m worried about making rent this month. Would you show me what to do? Would you provide for my need?”
Tell God whatever is on your mind. For example, you could tell him about your day, problems, job, family, bank account, or mother-in-law, just as if you were talking to a good friend. “Lord, did you see the family at dinner tonight? I’m worried about little Bobby. He seemed so quiet, and I’m wondering if something’s wrong. Would you comfort him and give me wisdom to know how to talk to him about what’s going on?”
Sure, God already knows everything about whatever topic you might bring up, but that’s not the point. The point is, just like in any relationship, you need to communicate because communication builds intimacy. Don’t be afraid of saying the wrong thing because God already knows your heart.
God is big enough to take your joy, your tears, your fear, your frustrations, your anger, and even your tantrums. But what he doesn’t want from you is a cold shoulder. Whatever you bring to God, he’ll help you through. Then when you look back, you’ll see his fingerprints on the things you brought to him in prayer.