Prayer, an act so simple for some, can be a major stumbling block for others.
How exactly does one address the Creator of the universe? What should you say? Is there such a thing as praying too much? Does God get annoyed, the same way we can get annoyed when someone talks all the time? Let’s consult the manual.
Pray without ceasing. —1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV
Paul instructed us to “pray without ceasing,” so it’s a safe bet that God doesn’t get annoyed as easily as we do. Still, constant prayer seems like somewhat of a burden. What else does Scripture say?
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. —Matthew 7:7, KJV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9, KJV
Be instant in prayer: watching in it with thanksgiving. — Colossians 4:2 KJV
Of course, those are not the only verses on prayer. We are also instructed to pray for each other, to pray for healing, to pray to be delivered from evil. Then we’re supposed to confess our sins, count our blessings and seemingly make out some sort of wish list of doors to be opened unto us. It’s no wonder why prayer can be so confusing.
We may be tempted to fall into a habit of some kind of formulaic prayer, something like:
“Dear God, thank you for ___. Today I sinned three times, because I did ___, ___ and ___. I also would like to pray for ___ because ___. By the way, I still haven’t gotten that promotion at work, and need that door to be opened unto me. Thanks and amen.”
That might work for some kind of prayer Mad Libs, but the truth is that such religious legalism doesn’t do very much to deepen your relationship with Him.
Try talking to Him like a friend.
It may seem awkward or silly at first, maybe even irreverent. That’s all right. God already knows what’s on your heart anyway — He just wants you to initiate the conversation. Tell Him what you’re happy about, even if it seems goofy.
“I am so thankful my favorite coffee mug didn’t break when I dropped it this morning” is a perfectly fine prayer. Get comfortable with the little things and move up to things that are more important to you. “I am really worried about mom being sick — would You please comfort her?” When we learn to really open our hearts to God, we can’t help but place more trust in Him. With that trust comes a deeper, more meaningful relationship.
When that relationship is real to you, you will find that it is no trouble at all to “pray without ceasing.” Every moment of every day will become an opportunity for fellowship with God. You will naturally find yourself more willing to lean on Him on the good days and bad, and you will find that you no longer need to count your blessings because you will be giving thanks all day long.
Prayer, once a stumbling block, will come effortlessly each and every day.
If there is a problem or question to which you are seeking an answer, there are some exercises that might help you hear God’s side of the conversation. Dr. Mark Virkler of Communion with God Ministries suggests journaling.
As you pray, just relax and focus on God, and write your question to Him. You will have a flow of thoughts — just write them down. Don’t allow doubt to get in the way. Continue journaling while you are in prayer until the flow of thoughts ceases. As you look back over your journal, you will be blessed to discover just what God was telling you.
It is never too late to come to God. Come to him with your joy, your fear, your anger and your heart wide open, and receive the miracle that is communion with God!