Prayer is so much more than saying the Lord’s prayer or petitioning for our own, our family and friends’ health or other issues. Not that these aren’t important, even vital for us. But the broadest definition of prayer is, I believe, spending time in the presence of God. That is, sitting in silence in God’s presence, carrying on a conversation with God that is on-going, listening to His “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12), and more. We are called to spend time with God daily. We are called to take our woes and petitions to Him. We are called to be His forever.
How and when do you pray? Do you have a set time before your day starts in the mornings to spend time with God: reading the Bible, sitting in silence, journaling? And what happens throughout the days of your life? Do you look to God when you are stuck, when you need help, when you are at a loss for what to do next? When you’re trying to decide something? Throughout our days, whether our questions for God are about our work, our family, our leisure or whatever, do you turn to God for solutions to your problems?
For that is the real nature of prayer: it is our connectedness to the One who created us, who has walked with us in our lives through thick and thin. even when we were totally unaware that He was there with us. He is to be seen in everything, not just in “spiritual” things or in church things, but in everything that engages us, be it work or leisure or relationships or whatever. He is to be sought in everything that we do, because he knows us better than we know ourselves. He can wisely counsel us in the best course for us, the one that will bring us to our true selves as He created us to be.
All of this prayer life in God depends on our ability to hear and to recognize God’s “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19: 12 NIV). Beneath the loud voices of our own minds lies God’s whisper, His still small voice. Can you hear it? Do you recognize the voice that speaks to you below the din of your mind? It takes time spent in silence, in His presence, to recognize the quiet voice within us that has our best interests at heart. We need to step back from our busy minds, to just become an observer of all the “shoulds” that the minds offer, the old and worn advice that we took on as a young child. When we begin to observe our thoughts rather than responding to them, we begin to realize that they have been with us for years, since our early childhood, trying to make up for all the guilt and shame that we experienced at the time when it was so hard to be obedient to our parents and caretakers.
We begin to recognize who is the source of this admonition or that one. Our parents, close relatives, teachers and peers are the immediate source of all that our mind says we “should” be doing. Sitting with what the mind is offering we can name who is the source of different thoughts. With fear, I found that these thoughts are my “old friends” with me from almost the beginning. All the loud admonitions are culturally based, to make you fit into the culture, no matter what. But if we really want to express our truest selves, we will begin to listen to God’s leading rather than our mind’s. And this is the true value of that “still small voice.” It will lead us, when we follow its suggestions, to our deepest, truest selves. And as we follow it, peace will begin to find a home in us. Joy will be there often. And we can watch as all the rest of “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23) grow in us—love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and humility.
Once we are free of much of the world’s and our culture’s influence, we will stand in our faith like we’re on that rock that Jesus talks about (Matt. 7:24), unshakable in who we are and whose we are. That is the true value of prayer—it calls us away from the world so that we can live in God’s kingdom here on Earth. Jesus told us that the kingdom is “at hand”(Matt. 3:2) , “has come near“ (Matt. 3:2), “within you”(Luke 17:21) , “in your midst” (Luke 17:21) “already among you” (Luke 17:21). So, really, it is up to us to be devoted enough to God to make the kingdom here on Earth a reality in our lives. Our devotion prompts God to do the healing and transformational work necessary to live in the kingdom. We don’t do it by ourselves; we are simply showing God that we are ready through our prayers, in His presence.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I make time every day for being in God’s presence, studying His Word, praying for myself and others, carrying on a dialogue with God? Can I just be an observer of my thoughts and actually hear God’s “still small voice?” Do I turn to Him throughout my days? Do I hear and heed all that God is saying to me?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who walk with Him in silence, in prayer, in our work, and relationships, and leisure time. May we be devoted to God in all ways.
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