Pondering today on praying “to” God or praying “with” God.
There is much confusion about prayer and for many, especially those in the church community, prayer can become a “work”, a “task”, an “event”. After being the prayer leader of a major world wide ministry, teaching on prayer and praying with hundreds of people at alters, bible studies and grocery stores…I still have so many questions about prayer. Now, I know, that Jesus taught us how to pray The Lord’s Prayer but my guess is that most people just recite the words and have never delved deeply into the original language, the historical and cultural backgrounds of the Jews he was talking to or the inaccuracies that the translation process included. All of that “knowledge” is not at the heart of this pondering.
My question is this…Do we pray TO God or WITH God? I would say that for about 45 of my 50 years in this body, I prayed TO God. In my minds eye, my imagination, I envisioned God in a physical place called heaven, while I was in a physical place called earth. My hope in prayer was that He would hear me and answer me. Sometimes I determined that He heard and answered because I would see proof. At other times, I determined that He did not hear me, or care, because I would not see proof. This led to a “Prayer Performance Treadmill”. If I pray consistently, diligently, correctly….God will listen and work on my behalf. And similarly, if I don’t pray consistently, diligently and correctly…He will not answer.
This week has been a roller coaster. I’ll spare you the details but our home is on the market and this week has held quite the spectrum of emotions from excitement to frustration to hope to anger and on I could go. All that to say…I see prayer differently now. This difference has been a long time coming and a process of many questions with an unfolding of answers. I realized this week that my prayer life had substantially shifted. I shifted from praying TO God to praying WITH God. The deep abiding presence of GOD IN ME has been so comforting and so powerful. The shift from asking something from this far off, “separated from” deity had become a “know in my knower”, woven into every fiber of my being, deeply intimate communion.. And it wasn’t just lip service. I knew that as I experienced and processed all the week had delivered to me, that WE were experiencing and processing it together. I didn’t have to have a magic formula to get God to help or intervene because He had been a participant the whole time. He knew what I was feeling, what I was thinking, what I was concerned about and He cared. I guess what I’m trying to communicate is that prayer looks so different to me now. It’s not a thing I do but an awareness of what is. It is that deep knowing that no matter what comes my way….God is with me.
My friends, if prayer has become just one more thing to do, an obligation, a duty of a good Christian, a way to make sure that God intervenes on your behalf….maybe a shift is needed in your understanding. Prayer is oneness, intimacy, awareness and most of all…it is rest. It’s a knowing that you don’t have to say a word because He is woven into every part of your mind, body and soul. It is an understanding that He is with you and there is no separation. It is a trust in His unfailingly love that will cover you like a warm blanket in all the storms of this life. It is true and lasting rest.
So go into this day, this week, this life with this awareness…God is ALWAYS with you, God is ALWAYS hearing you and God is always loving you. Happy Sunday my friends! Love well!