Imagine having a best friend with whom you never talked or otherwise communicated. This is very hard, if not impossible, to imagine. Good and regular communication is essential to being in a close friendship. Without it, friendship falters and collapses. Each member of a friendship must participate in both the expressing and the listening aspects of the needed comunication. Through good communication friends come to know each other, to listen and to hear each other, and to express feelings and thoughts clearly to each other. Within good communication — good communing between persons — the relationship takes place, is experienced, and flourishes. Good communication gives good life to friendships.
Prayer is the gift of communication with and from God, courtesy of God's Holy Spirit. Even when our words are inadequate, God's Spirit can enable prayer in us. As the apostle Paul writes: "...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will" (Rom. 8:26-27, NIV). Prayer, we might say, is the gift of God's Spirit communing with God through us. In prayer our friendship with God takes place, is experienced, and flourishes. As with communication in any friendship, prayer with God involves more than our talking to God. We must listen for and to Him. As a loving friend who is also our Father, God asks us to listen to Him in a way that leads to faithful obedience to Him. Jesus has shown us as much.
Jesus's contagious experience of being God’s beloved Son is vividly expressed in his prayers. Consider "the Lord's Prayer" given by Jesus for his disciples (Matt. 6:9-13, NIV):
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
This prayer is altogether free of selfish demands. It puts God and His kingdom first, and thus says to God: "Your will be done, even here on earth."
The decisive, agonizing prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane matches the Lord's Prayer in exalting God's will. Jesus prays to God: "Abba, Father, ... everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will" (Mk. 14:36, NIV). Jesus anticipated his forthcoming felt isolation from his Father (Mk. 15:34), and he asked that he be spared this "cup" of devastation. Even so, he put this request in subjection to the primacy of his Father's will, and thus proceeded obediently to the cross. The prayer of Jesus, then, leads to faithful obedience to his Father, however costly. Our prayer should too.
Jesus-inspired filial prayer toward God, in response to God’s amazing love, is the ideal avenue to filial knowledge of God. Such prayer involves first our asking and hearing what God as our loving Father wants from us rather than what we want from God. This kind of humble prayer opens us to the available evidence of God's reality we should expect and pursue. It also relates us to God in faithful obedience and thereby enables us to receive God's transforming merciful love. Faithful obedience is the only way to receive God's life-changing love.
is a precious gift from God. In prayer, we have the privilege to go to our heavenly
Father and express everything on our hearts. We need not fear condemnation
from God. We need not hide from our
loving Father, who is eager to hear our troubles and celebrations. Just as a
loving human parent wants to know what is on the heart of his or her child,
so also, and even more, does our Creator want to hear our heartfelt concerns.
Our sovereign Father already knows what is on our hearts, but the transfer of
information is not the main goal of prayer. The perfectly loving God seeks, via our
prayer, loving friendship and fellowship with us. He wants us to love
and to trust Him with our whole heart
and life. In the safety of His friendship, we can receive and be assured of
forgiveness and reconciliation.
Wrapped in prayer, the gift of friendship with God, made possible by Jesus in
self-giving love, is the source of genuine peace
and joy that renders idols pointless
and even repulsive. Will we receive this gift? Will we become friends of God?
come to You with nothing
but my heart,
cold and small as it is.
That's all You want.
Such a treasure You are,
in this place; any place.
It's our place.
Here I come to know You.
Here You have my heart
and I have Yours.