I’ve had the great privilege over the years to be a part of many different prayer groups. Admittedly some were more enjoyable than others, and some were much more blessed than others, but each had a value and a purpose and touched my life in some way.
And it was in these groups that I also had the opportunity to listen to many different people as they engaged in the most favorable of all states: prayer – communication and communion with God; and this is where I proceeded to hear many things… many different approaches, attitudes and formalities that people had about God and about prayer.
And through it all, I came to realize one thing in-particular… one thing that I want to share with you today, one thing that the scriptures make very clear: that prayer is not a formal or mysterious thing.
Rather, prayer is specifically, communion and communication with God. And what I want to share with you today, is what the communion and what this communication is really about, and what it looks like, and how you do not have to stand on formality with God – because He is your Father who loves you.
Now the reason why I mentioned all of the prayer groups in the past, is because it was there where I was able to see people praying, and quite honestly I was surprised to see how the posture of people instantly changed the moment that they would actually engage in prayer. It shocked me. And please understand that I am not saying this in a judgmental way… I’m not saying that these people were being insincere or that they somehow weren’t genuine – not at all. In-fact I am quite sure that they were being completely genuine in their beliefs… the problem was the spiritual posture that they took, and the attitude which was adopted during prayer, one which Jesus specifically speaks about.
Perhaps you are familiar with it… You may have seen someone who is very lighthearted and very energetic; a lively person to be with who speaks in a down-to-earth way that really resonates with everyone.
But then, the moment they begin to pray, everything changes… their posture , their mannerisms, even their speech. The person who was so lively and energetic and lighthearted before, now seems as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They start using overly eloquent and even antiquated words, using the old-English “thees and thous”.
This has never made sense to me. On the one hand, people say that God is their Father, and that we are His beloved children whom He cares deeply for.
While on the other hand, we feel as though we can not talk to Him normally without completely changing our demeanor and language.
Why do we still have this disconnect with God?
Why do we still place artificial barriers between us and the One who died to remove every wall, barrier and veil?
Friend, my heart today is to share with you the truth that will set you free today. The truth about how you do not need to stand on any kind of formality with God. The truth that you can be completely open, completely honest and completely relaxed with your Daddy God.
Take for example, the wisest man to ever live before Jesus walked the earth: Solomon. In 1st Kings 3, Solomon had gone to the land of Gibeon, to offer sacrifices at the “high places” because as yet there was no temple of God; and in verse 5 we see this:
“In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give you.”
Now, already this is not what we might expect from God. Immediately, as soon as God appears to Solomon, He is already looking to give. He didn’t ask anything of Solomon. He didn’t test Solomon first, or give him some challenge to overcome before rewarding him. He didn’t wait to see what eloquent words Solomon would utter either.
You see, we tend to think of prayer sometimes through the wrong lens, of trying to impress God to see if we can actually get Him to give us something. Oh if I could just use the right words, and avoid saying the wrong thing… then God will answer my prayer.
Yet we see none of that here. In-fact Solomon doesn’t even initiate the conversation! As of this moment, Solomon has not said a word. And God is still offering to give him anything that he would ask.
This is important for us to see the sheer and unhindered generosity of God on display here. And what did Solomon do? Well, he went to sleep! He rested! And specifically, He rested after the sacrifice was offered.
Now, take this fact. And step back for a moment, and see the big picture here. The sacrifice was offered, and then Solomon rested… nothing else needed to happen. The next thing you know, God is appearing to him and asking Solomon what he would like to be given.
There’s no formality here, there’s no standing on ceremony, there’s no apprehension, no fear.
Why do we think our relationship with God is worse than Solomon’s?
We have the greatest sacrifice ever to be offered. A sacrifice that is vastly superior to the 1,000 burnt animal sacrifices that Solomon offered at the high places, and yet we rarely seem to experience the kind of thing which Solomon experienced here… and I don’t say that in a judgmental way, nor to shame anyone. I say it to cause us to stop and think. Why?
And one of the reasons why we seem to miss this, is because we have a false-sense of formality and ceremony and ritual, which Jesus Himself spoke about in Matthew 6:7. Let’s take a look at what He said:
“And when you pray, don’t babble continually like the pagans, who think God will hear them better if they use many words…”
Jesus pretty much nails this point down. Truly there are people who think that the more they talk and the more eloquent speech they use, that God will somehow or for some reason be more attentive. But Jesus clearly says that this is not true. Instead, Jesus continues on in the next verse, 8:
“Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
And take notice of something very interesting here… The “babbling pagans” think that God will hear them better the longer that they talk. But “you” know that your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Do you see the difference there? It’s all about the realization of the relationship. The knowing that God is not distant from you, but instead is intimately involved and interested in your life, because He created you. And not only did He create you, but He cares for you, even going so far as to save you from destruction.
He didn’t just create you and leave. No! He is your Father, as Jesus points out. And this is the key to it all.
Check out 1st John 3:22-23:
“And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandment, and do what is pleasing in his sight.
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
Now, I want you to take an honest look at these verses, especially in-light of the finished work of Christ and what Jesus said in the previous verse which we read – and answer the question: what is it that we must do to receive whatever we ask of Him as Solomon did?
Answer: believe on the name of Jesus Christ… and the love follows it.
You see my friend, it’s not about your prayer, or the eloquent words you pray, or the rituals or ceremonies that you engage in. Rather, it’s the favor of God, His mercy and Grace that is upon you because of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
All things are given freely with Christ (Romans 8:32). And once we truly realize that we stand in the righteousness of Christ Jesus, and not in our ourselves of our own performance, then it will suddenly become an easy thing to talk to our Daddy God. Not something dreadful or something intimidating – but something truly enjoyable and fun and light… exactly as it should be for a child to talk to a father.
So I encourage you today. Drop the charade. Realize that prayer is not about you trying to impress God or to convince Him to do things. In-fact He has already done everything! All is accomplished. And prayer is not trying to get Him to give you things. He has already given all things freely with Jesus!
Instead, prayer is you communicating with your Father in Heaven, your Daddy God, who loves you more than you can possibly imagine.