The first thing we need to do in regard to the matter of prayer is establish its true meaning. The idea of prayer carries with it so much religious baggage that even the mention of praying turns many people off.
When I was in seminary we studied prayer. We tore the bible apart to determine all of the different types of prayer. We even discovered that David prayed what are called imprecatory prayers. These are prayers that call upon God to destroy others; ‘to smash their teeth”, as David would say.
Then there were the infamous Wednesday night prayer meetings. As a young Christian I can remember well those boring prayer gatherings. We spent about forty minutes taking prayer requests and then finally got to praying after we had discussed the latest juicy piece of information about others who ‘needed’ prayer.
And lets not forget the prayer Agenda. That’s when the pastor prayers his sermon mentioning all five points so that the congregation doesn’t forget what he preached about. I am sure God heard it the first time he said it. Prayer has just become a reiteration of the sermon. Just listen to the pastor’s prayer when he’s finished preaching. He’s really not talking to God; he’s talking to you and me. Or how about the prayer at the political gathering or the sporting event? You won’t convince me that within the heart of the person praying there is an unspoken desire for God to help them prevail or win.
My understanding of prayer was dramatically changed many years ago as a fairly new Christian. Some kindly saint wanted me to grow in my relationship with Jesus. She gave me a book that changed my life. It has become one of the most formative books in my spiritual journey. The book is Prayer, Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker. This is a must read if you want to really understand what prayer is about.
Prayer is engaging in conversation. It requires listening as well as speaking. When God created Adam and Eve it was not because He needed a gardener. It was because He wanted someone to talk to. The only difference between conversation with other people and conversation with God is that we call the later‘prayer’. It is conversation with the most precious, best, wonderful friend you will ever have in this life and in the next.
Jesus said, “When you pray” not “if you pray”. That is why he instructed us to go into the secret place. So we could have a conversation with Him.
He is waiting for you there right now…. (Matthew 6:6)
Dr. Dale Fife has served the Body of Christ for over 50 years as a caring pastor, insightful teacher, gifted musician, and best-selling author. His wisdom, maturity, and genuine spiritual concern for others have caused many to regard him as a "spiritual father" in the Lord. His insightful teaching has inspired and blessed thousands around the world.