Posted by: mikenicholsblog | December 11, 2011

more relating

Who is the most famous person you have been privileged to meet? At that moment, you probably had a sense of awe in starting the conversation. Your palms were sweaty and you feared saying something dumb or inappropriate. Rising far above any awe-struck conversation is the opportunity we have been given to communicate with God. Through a relationship with Jesus Christ, we are given entrance to His throne room. God wants to spend time with us, and there is no need for sweaty palms or fearful hearts. At the moment of our salvation, we were adopted into His family (Romans 8:15). So why, if God wants to spend time with us, and we need Him, do we spend so little time in prayer?

One of the primary reasons, I believe, is that we view prayer in the wrong context. Whether you are new to faith or a long time follower of Christ, chances are your prayer life often frustrates you. Could it be that too much emphasis is put on “my requests” and “His answers?” Surely we are to seek God with our burdens, no matter the size. And our Father wants to meet us at our point of need. So what is the right context?  Note the words of author Dr. Larry Crabb, in “The PAPA Prayer” …

The chief purpose of prayer is to get to know God, to deepen our relationship with Him, to nourish the life of God He’s already placed within us, and to do it all to satisfy His desire for relationship with us”.

It is obvious to me that most of us spend far more time requesting of God than we do building a relationship with Him. Requests can easily become one-sided, while cultivating a relationship involves listening as well as speaking.

During the earthly ministry of Jesus, prayer played a critical role. After an evening of healing, we see a vivid picture of Christ’s relationship with the Father. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). View His life, and you will see constant and deep communion with the Father. Search scripture and you won’t find Christ just giving God His laundry list of requests. He needed and wanted to spend time in prayer. Could it be that we sense so little victory and enjoyment in prayer because we aren’t developing a relationship, but simply conveying our needs?

Most parents know the needs of their children and desire to meet them. Those same parents long to meet needs in the context of a relationship. God knows our every need and wants to bless our lives as we spend time with Him, sharing our hearts, and listening to His. You can give God lots of requests, without cultivating a relationship. But you may find that in spending time relating to Him, your prayer life becomes more meaningful, enjoyable and victorious. I believe those who see great answers to prayer seek a relationship over the laundry list.

Be honest with yourself. If you don’t enjoy your prayer life and find it ineffective, it’s time to think about replacing your approach with a new one. You may find that more relating and less requesting will give you greater confidence. Try letting your prayer time be more of sharing your heart, and then quietly listening to His.  Praying this way may take more of your time, but who cares, you are in the presence of God. And don’t worry, He knows what you need before your lips ever utter a request!

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