Over the years, I’ve read a lot of books on prayer. Every book seems to have a ‘magic’ approach to prayer that ‘guarantees’ results.
You have to pray standing.
You have to state everything as if it’s already happened instead of asking for it.
You have to pray with someone else.
You have to follow the format of the Lord’s Prayer.
You have to walk in circles.
You have to have a prayer corner.
You have to pray in Jesus’ name only.
You have to pray kneeling.
You have to pray at least once a day, but preferably continuously.
You have to spend as much time giving thanks as praying for your issues.
And when we teach about prayer we give much of the same advice. Do this. Don’t do that. Read your Bible and pray every day. We teach rules instead of a relationship.
I’m a structured person by nature and I love lists, but doesn’t a how-to for prayer pretty much defy the whole purpose?
It’s a relationship.
Consider any friendship you have. How would you feel about a to do list to maintain that friendship?
You have to call at least every day and text at least ten times.
You have to thank for the friendship every time you talk.
You have to spend at least 15 minutes in conversation every time you talk.
You have to follow this format for every conversation.
We’d laugh, wouldn’t we? Yet, for prayer we consider this the normal.
Of course we can give advice on how to pray The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, it’s good to thank God, and Jesus didn’t teach us that prayer without a reason. But if all we teach is must and how to, we’re missing the point.
Prayer isn’t complicated. It’s talking to our Father.
Every night, when we put our son to bed, we pray with him. My husband has a different way of doing this than I do however. He lets our son pray first and than prays for him. I however pray on behalf of my son—but he interrupts me with things he wants God to know. It’s spontaneous, it’s organic and it’s so pure. He tells God about the awesome soccer match he had, or about the new friend he made, or about how he ate his veggies even though he didn’t like them.
He’s simply talking to God, not following a certain format. And my guess is that God is enjoying every second of it.
Don’t make prayer complicated. Stress the relationship. It’s simply talking to our Daddy, that’s all.
[Photo Credit: Jonathan Cousins on Freely]