What is Prayer and why is it so important? (Part 1)
Prayer is one of the greatest tools one can have in the world because it opens the door to a dialogue with God. God calls out to us. The story of scripture is the story of a God who pursues us, who wants to be in relationship with us. Prayer is our basic component of communication.
When we pray we…
- begin a dialogue with the One Who created us, the One who never left us.
- are reestablishing that connection within our hearts and minds and giving ourselves the opportunity to have a deeper experience with God.
- choose to step aside from all that seems to be happening as we seek a connection with the Creator.
- we both speak and listen
- we expose ourselves, all of who we are to God, so that God’s gentle hand can continue the process of transformation and change – sculpting us into the people God created us to be.
Prayer is so much more than just asking for immediate needs. It involves thinking, listening, meditating, contemplating, remembering, learning, hearing, responding, crying…. it is a complete dialogue. Without this experience, too often we are overwhelmed by the circumstances of life or the false messages that the world constantly bombards us with.
Despite this tremendous need that we have for prayer, it is not easy. The only time it seems to come naturally – if at all – is in times of crisis. This is when we are panicking and cry out “God please help!” By then, it is often a desperate cry. Tragically, most of us have not built up the skills of listening to God and so it is much harder for us to hear or receive from God during these times. Why is it so difficult? Why can’t we just live in constant communication with God? There are many reasons and obstacles that we face. One common problem is we have a wrong images or perception of God. This leads to having a very distorted form of prayer. What image of God do you have when you pray? Is God like Santa Clause (you give God your list and depending on whether or not you’ve been bad or good during the past week influences God’s response)? Or is God like a genie in a bottle, bow your head and whatever you wish for it is granted. Some people view God as a stern father who grudgingly gives a reward now and then only to motivate his child to do something for him. All three of these images of God are false, yet they are very common today. These false images influence our attitude, perception and experience of prayer and create obstacles for us. The worst possible result is they turn us away from God after having had unfulfilled experiences when we pray.
Allowing scripture, worship, trusted mentors, and pastors to guide us in replacing false images of God with a true picture of who God is important to helping us learn how to dialogue with God. What images do you have of God? How might you start seeking out truer images…?
(to be continued in our next Summit)
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