There are no shortcuts towards building intimacy with God. You have to talk to Him, and He wants to talk to you. It’s called PRAYER, which intimidates some. But prayer is nothing more than initiating a conversation; a sharing of your thoughts, dreams, fears, and experiences.
For some people, praying to God generates feelings of anxiety similar to stage fright; and that’s in the seclusion of their bedroom. Asking them to pray in public- like saying the grace at Thanksgiving- will send them into cardiac arrest. I can only speculate, but I think these lovely people have adopted a false belief that God cares about form and fashion and has an unpublished set of rules outlining when to pray, how to pray, how long to pray, and what to pray.
Here are a few of the not-so-original excuses made for not praying: “I don’t know any prayers.” “I don’t know a lot of scripture.” “My prayers sound babyish.” “I’m not a preacher.” “I don’t know what to pray for.” “I don’t want to bother God with my little problems.” “God doesn’t listen to people like me.” “I don’t have enough time in the mornings.” “I can’t get to church every Sunday.” “I don’t have any privacy at home.” “I have bad knees.”
Yes, bad knees. Need something to pray about? How about: “God, please heal my bad knees.”
Seriously, any excuse that keeps you from talking with the One who loves you best is a ploy from the enemy. Talking to God is not confined to the four walls of a building. Nor is it a sacred obligation of a select few. The only wrong way to pray is not to pray. Sure, people may ask for things or express frustrations that reveal their spiritual immaturity, but that doesn’t make it a wrong prayer. Rather, it’s another opportunity for the Holy One to bring us into truth and refine our character.
The absence of a prayer life suggest (at least) two things and both are saddening to God:
- An arrogant belief that you can do this thing called life by yourself; that you don’t need Him; and
- An ignorance of, or misunderstanding as to who you are to Him, what you mean to Him, and how violently He is for you.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4 ESV
God is everywhere and He never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). This means you can talk to Him anywhere and at any time. Pray while you’re walking to that employee performance evaluation meeting. Pray while you’re sitting in the courtroom watching the lawyers spar. Bored with your monotonous daily commute? Turn off the radio and have a little chat with Him.
And don’t tell me “you don’t know how to pray good prayers”. The ease and flair of praying that you observe, and possibly envy, in others, is not about practice, per se. No doubt, some people are all show and no substance. But for many, a fluid conversation with God is indicative of a solid private prayer life. It’s the fruit of a relationship that has been nurtured. If you make talking to God equally as important as your daily hygiene, you will find quickly enough your own ease.
I hear some of you say, “God already knows everything. He sees what I’m going through.” This is true, but He wants you to trust Him with your heart. Is He your “go-to” person when you have a problem? Or the last resort? News Flash- God doesn’t play second very well.
Not only does prayer build intimacy, it builds influence. For example, when you say:
“Let me talk to her; she’ll listen to me”
“Be sure to tell him you know me”
“I’ll put a call in for you”–
… You are leveraging your influence with someone as a result of an established relationship.
Well, guess what you? You have influence with God. Once you accept Christ as your Savior, you gain influence, priority, standing and an inheritance with God. Prayer strengthens your relationship with God, which, in turn, builds a confidence in you and influential standing with Him. When people offer to pray for you, they are leveraging their relationship with the Creator. In essence, they’re saying, “I’ll put a call in for you.” When you hear, “Father, show them Your compassion and mercy….” Translation: “Daddy, calm down. Don’t take ‘em out.”
Prayer invites Him to intervene in your situation.
One evening, I was venting to my dad about an incident at the job. With all seriousness he asked, “Do I need to come up there and have a talk?” I wanted to say yes and have my daddy clearly “communicate” that I’m not the one to mess with. But then it occurred to me– I’M 45 YEARS OLD! I can’t have my daddy coming up to my office to fight my battles.
Later, in my alone time, I told my Heavenly Father about my day. And with all seriousness, the Spirit of God asked, “Do I need to come up there and have a talk?” I said, uh, yes…
And He wants to do the same thing for you. He’s got your back!
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:8 NIV, emphasis added.
I fear that I’ve fallen short in explaining the importance of having a regular prayer life; how vital it is to your spiritual growth and understanding. Talking with Holy Spirit will keep you from losing your mind! If you’re unsure of what to pray, start with what scares you, what worries you. If you have children, the list should be long. Tell Him about your hurt feelings, why you’re mad. Unload your thoughts, unedited, about your exhaustion, emotional fatigue, and that boss of yours. Then ask Him to fix it, remove it, save it, heal it, protect it, forgive it, stop it, bring it, or give it. Just ask. Nothing is too big or too small for the One who loved you to the grave and back.