Prayer is not our own efforts trying to reach God. They are God’s loving invitations for us to interact with him. The Bible invites us to trust, and then speak up rather than be closed up.
Here are just some of those invitations:
—”Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 2:12).
—”Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).
—”They devoted themselves… to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
—”Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
—”And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
—”The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray” (1 Peter 4:7).
—”But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20).
Many believers say they pray best when prayer is a continual dialogue with God during the course of the day. As one person put it: “I do not often pray for 15 minutes straight, but hardly ever does 15 minutes pass without me praying.”
This is obviously not the kind of prayer where someone is down on his knees in a quiet room of his house. It is, rather, the idea that one can say a sentence or two to God anytime, anywhere, out loud or silently. Done many times over during the course of a day, and one develops a steady heart-openness to God. It allows one to respond to God at the moment one sees any special act or blessing from God. It is to ask God questions during the day, the whole day, about what you’re seeing, the decisions you’re making, your choice of words before they come out of your mouth.
It may look something like this:
—As you wake and that first rush of thoughts come into your head about what you’ll be doing that day, say to God: thank you for the chance to rest and to start again. Please help me see you in this day and to please you by who I am today. —You shower and, as you relax, all kinds of thoughts pop into your head. Some worries, some regrets, some ideas. Tell God: I trust this to you, God. Teach me how to leave these concerns in your hands. Help me know what I should do.
—You take 15 or 20 minutes in a quiet part of the house to read a chapter or two in the Bible, saying first to God: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path.” Take a few quiet moments to mediate on what you’ve read, and then talk to God about your response, thanking him for a truth you found there, telling him what you don’t understand, confessing where you sense you are coming up short.
—As you make your morning drive thoughts of your work start emerging in your mind. Tell God: This meeting concerns me. Help me figure out what is going on here. Help me to believe in your presence throughout this day.
—You’re in a tense and tricky phone conversation. You have to decide what to say and when to hold your tongue. You pray silently: Lord, give me the right words.
—You choose to have a light and brief lunch so that you can take a good walk. You get some fresh air, you have a chance to clear your head, and every so often you say something aloud or silently to God. You respond to the thoughts he brings to you with whatever is appropriate: thanks, praise, confession, or petition.
—Again, during the afternoon, you cast a silent or verbal sentence to God during many situations. In one sense, it is like having your best friend next to you, and you’re discussing the unfolding of the day in a natural and engaging way. In another sense, however, you keep in the front of your mind that this is the Lord of heaven and earth you are talking to and you welcome the sense of reverential awe that brings.
—A quiet moment before supper is a good moment for heartfelt thanks.
—The end of the day is a chance to say, before you nod off to sleep: dear God, help me to learn from what I experienced today. Thanks for the opportunity to live this day before you. Here is what I regret… here is what I’m glad about… Please recharge me with rest.
Prayer is not a burden. It is not a performance. It is an open invitation God has given to us to talk to him throughout the day