Monday, October 15, 2012

Prayer: A Way of Life

I recently came upon this quote by one of my favorite Christian writers, Henri Nouwen. He said, 

"To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put Him into a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings.... 

Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts -- beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful -- can be thought in the presence of God."

I agree with Henri's thoughts on prayer. There is so much written about this subject, and some of it is helpful. But as my own prayer life has changed and deepened, I've learned that prayer is much more than words and requests. 

Prayer reflects a relationship between one who surrenders and One who reigns. This relationship, one that is marked by transparency and a desire to seek God's best in all things, is central to a powerful and transforming prayer life. As this relationship matures and becomes central in someone's life, prayer itself becomes a way of life. This makes perfect sense. 

The one who gets to know God and His character never wants to leave His presence. Why would we?

Prayer is words, thoughts, and even gazes toward God. It is seeking God's face, His presence, and His wisdom in every circumstance. Such prayerful living keeps us safe, softens our hearts, and helps us live for others. It exposes our true selves and looks to God as the source of love, goodness, and peace. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the apostle Paul urges us to pray without ceasing, 

Be joyful always;  
pray continually;  
give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I believe such praying without ceasing begins to happen naturally as we get to know God and His character -- His goodness, faithfulness, and love. As we learn that God is trustworthy and faithful, we want to live in His presence more and more, and so we pray continually, calling Him into every circumstance, good and bad.

James 5:13 points to the joy and wisdom of praying at all times,

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

In good times and bad times, prayer brings us into the presence of God. Prayer is the overflow of a life that is learning to trust the One who knows everything and cares about everything. Today, regardless of what you're facing, look to God as the answer. Pray that He will reveal Himself in the midst of your need, and continue to abide in Him through prayer as you wait for the answer. When you wait prayerfully, you wait in good company!

So, today and every day, choose to stay close to God, and pray!
Dr Mari

Prayer is also about learning to live in Love's Grip; read more about that here
The importance of prayer is emphasized in my new book, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare.

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