I can only speak for myself, but I believe that prayer is the pathway to real, sustaining hope. Now, I don’t mean any particular form of prayer, only that which allows your heart to best open up to God. Because I am a Christian in a long term relationship with Jesus, I always pray in Jesus’ name when I am praying aloud or blessing a meal. But I absolutely do not believe that prayer must include any particular words. In fact, I believe that the words we consciously choose are mostly irrelevant to God.
I’ll try to explain. And, I can only explain from my experience. Although for decades I have regularly read and done what I call studying the Bible, I am certainly no Bible scholar. However, that is not a caveat because I do not believe that being a Bible scholar is necessary. Sometimes, I am afraid our knowledge of who we think God is, derived from our studies, can blind us to God’s infinitely creative and personal interaction with each of us.
Okay. The explanation of what prayer means to me is lifting my thoughts to God, as well as allowing Him into the deep crevices I cannot access with my conscious mind. I also believe in the power of intentional prayer–of prayer that articulates the desires of my heart as pointedly as possible. I have seen many, many prayers of this sort answered. I have also had many more either unanswered or denied. That does not change my belief that God has heard them and answered them perfectly.
But, whatever words I use have to be mostly irrelevant to God, who knows my heart and soul incredibly better than I do. You see, if our conscious words are what tip the scales for God to answer prayers as we want, then smarter, more articulate people have better access to God and His promises and provisions. What utter nonsense! God does not care one whit about our I.Q., lineage, education, or eloquence.
What God cares about is the sum total of our hearts, whether they are willing to trust Him or not. Time and time again, God has moved on my behalf in a way that only afterwards lets me know the content of my heart’s desire. One example of this was years ago, after I had made a decision to leave a very comfortable, secure job to open my own law practice. After I had been working for myself for about six years, out of the blue, I got a phone call offer of a job I thought was totally unavailable to me. I was blown away, because, until the offer came, I had not allowed myself to even think about leaving private practice, much less pray about it. Only afterwards did I realize that God had indeed answered a deep prayer of my heart.
This little explanation only barely begins to scratch the surface of how prayer works. I hope to have more to offer from my perspective in the days to come. Until then, I pray that you allow yourself to pray in any way that gets you closer to God. That is really all there is to it.
Amen and amen.