It’s a simple question, but it can be tough to answer.
It sounds like; “How has your talking to God been like lately?”
Emotionally it might feel like this: “Summing up your relationship with God at this point in your life.”
- Bible reading (by comparison), is more precise and objective.
- How many pages?
- How far along in your plan?
- Which books have you been reading?
- What have you learned?”
Prayer doesn’t fit into an Excel sheet quite as easily.
God means for your life — married or unmarried, student or employee, young or old — to run on the power of prayer. Prayer fuels the engine of your heart and mind. It’s not coffee, energy drinks or social media buzz. It’s prayer. You need God in and through prayer more than you need anything else. We will not do anything of any real and lasting value without God, which means we will not do anything of any real and lasting value without prayer. And yet you probably feel as insecure about your prayer life as you feel about anything.
Prayer might be, at the same time, the most pivotal and most puzzling activity in Christian life. We know we need to pray, but we know we don’t pray enough. And we’re not always sure we’re even doing it right when we pray. The devil hates prayer. Our flesh does not naturally love it. Therefore, it does not come full-born and complete and passionate from the womb of our heart. It takes discipline.
The Bible refuses to give us one small, simple picture or pattern for prayer. Jesus never intended for his model prayer (what we call The Lord’s Prayer) to be our only guide or counsel for worship. It is a great place to start, but God’s word gives us much more material for our prayer lives. Prayer comes in a million shapes and forms. Prayer happens in seconds. It can occur for short moments in the cracks of our day and can happen for hours at a time, even throughout a whole night. Prayer is conscious, personal communication with the God of the universe.
A better question than “How’s your prayer life?” might be: “Have you been enjoying conscious communication with God over his word, in your daily needs, throughout your day?”
Has your relationship with him been real — not a box to check, not just a hurried place for help, not a vague, abstract idea hovering over your head and life? Has your faith been tying you to him in your heart? Have you been leaning on him and not yourself?
Dialogue is what is essential to prayer. Prayer makes a difference in what happens (James 4:2). Our understanding of prayer will correspond to our understanding of God. When God is seen as desiring to bless us, and when we acknowledge He is sovereignly free to respond to us, prayer will be seen as a dialogue with God. Prayer will lead to greater communion with God and understanding of His will.
God will respond when we faithfully pursue this dialogue. So how is your prayer life?