What immediately comes to your mind when you read that word? Perhaps some of Paul’s words like “petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 2:1; also Philippians 4:6) came to mind. Clearly, that is part of prayer. But over the years, prayer has also come to mean personal interaction with God—both listening to and talking with him. I read a new, short, but powerful book on prayer called Forgotten Power: A Simple Theology for a Praying Church by David Butts (read a book review here). He shares a quote of an Indian pastor’s relational perspective on prayer. It so captured my experience and belief about the essence of prayer—relational time with God more than just requesting things of him. I hope you enjoy it, too!
“The essence of prayer does not consist in asking God for something but in opening our hearts to God, in speaking with him, and living with him in perpetual communion. Prayer is continual abandonment to God. Prayer does not mean asking God for all kinds of things we want; it is rather the desire for God himself, the only Giver of Life. Prayer is not asking, but union with God. Prayer is not a painful effort to gain from God help in the varying needs of our lives. Prayer is the desire to possess God himself, the Source of all Life. The true spirit of prayer does not consist in asking for blessings, but in receiving Him who is the Giver of all blessings, and in living a life of fellowship with him.” (Pastor Sadhu Sundar Singh).
Gracious Father, help us to approach prayer this way—not out of want or need for more, but out of a loving desire for more of you. We know you are truly the “Giver of all blessings” and we are so thankful for all your provide (“our daily bread”). Kindle the flame of love in us so that our love for you and others grows broader and deeper. Help us to hear the Master’s still small voice, the clear call of Christ, and the gentle nudge of Holy Spirit. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.