Sound ridiculous? Of course it does! And I’m kidding!!! How can anyone have a fulfilling relationship, or any type of relationship for that matter, with his or her spouse if they don’t talk? But we live out that same ridiculous idea everyday that we don’t spend time in prayer. As women, we were created for fellowship. How can we fulfill that purpose without prayer? And just as my motive for talking to Mark isn’t always companionship, prayer is more than just talking to God for the purpose of fellowship. I rely on Mark for so many things. I need his help with decisions. I depend on him for emotional support. I share my worries and fears and I know that he listens intently and holds me accountable at the same time. I share my feelings of love and express my need for our relationship to grow. I ask him to do things to make our relationship better and our lives easier (like vacuuming). In order for our relationship to last, we function as “one” and the facilitator of this seamless relationship is, of course, communication.
Perhaps it’s trivial to compare the husband/wife relationship with that which God has requested of us. Or is it? Sometime in the next week, read Song of Solomon, but do so in this light: In a spiritual sense, the Song of Solomon is a very real representation of Christ and His incredible love of His bride, the Church. God wants to know us in a deep and intimate way. As a matter of fact, God desires to know us in the same intimate way that we know our spouse. No, not sexually. It’s a deep, piercing, and complete knowledge. He wants to know our needs, our wants, our struggles, and our stumbling blocks. But He also wants to know that we depend on Him completely and that we love Him. There’s’ just no way to facilitate this relationship without communication.
Putting this communication into practice is not as easy as it sounds. Praying here and there just isn’t enough to sustain a healthy relationship with God. Real prayer requires changing our lifestyle. Start with thirty minutes a day. (Yes! 30 minutes minimum.) Do it in the morning, the evening, while you’re driving, whenever. Just make sure it’s quite and that you are completely focused on God. How you pray is personal to you, but there are Biblical models for prayer. Ever hear someone say, “If you want something done right, you do it yourself”? Well, God did. It’s called the Lord’s Prayer. It’s found in both Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4. Memorize it and try to adapt it to your own life. You may also want to use the A.C.T.S of prayer. That’s arranging your prayer time into the following segments: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (i.e. requests).
At some point, and probably without your knowledge, you’ll be carrying on conversations with God throughout the day. According to I Thessalonians 5:17, we are to “Pray without ceasing.” David wrote, “…let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually” (I Chronicles 16:10-11). Jesus taught “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). The disciples gave themselves “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4).
We are to pray “everywhere” (I Timothy 2:8). You may need to pray when asked a question (Nehemiah 2:4). You are to pray in secret (Matthew 6:6). If you are a husband (men read this page too), you are to pray as the head of your family (Eph. 5:23). You are to pray in public, as King Solomon did (I Kings 8:22-53). We are to pray in Jesus name (John 14:6) because we live for Him and can do nothing without Him (John 5:17).
And there are so many things for which to pray: God’s will in our lives, daily food, forgiveness for our sins, guidance in all matters, victory over the world and the flesh and Satan (Matthew 6:9-13); the sick (James 5:13-16); all men, kings, those in authority, the salvation of sinners (I Timothy 2:1-4); the safety of self and others (Daniel 6:18-23); wisdom and understanding (I Kings 3:5-9, James 1:5-8); food, shelter, and clothing (Matthew 6:25-34); a prosperous journey (Romans 1:10); that all Christians be made perfect in Christ (Colossians 1:28); your enemies (Matthew 5:38-48), and for church leaders (I Timothy 5:17).
God has made us each unique. Our prayers are unique and our style is our own. So be creative if you’re looking to open up your prayer life. Start keeping a prayer journal and update it regularly. Use a prayer "model." For example, the Lord's Prayer - read a line, pause reflect, read the next line, etc. Or personalize and pray the Scriptures by inserting your own name or someone else’s. Start with Psalms 91 or John 3:16. Get photographs of people you would like to pray for. Do a prayer walk around your neighborhood. Do research so you can pray specifically. Cut out newspaper clippings and pray over issues - local, national and international. Ask local leaders (teachers, pastors) what and who you can pray for. Write out your prayers on pretty paper. Date it. And record answers! Be creative and be yourself.
I am married to a wonderful man whom I love -- and I will never quit talking to him. (Although some days he probably wishes I would quit talking!) In a much greater sense, we each have a wonderful God – and He wants more than anything for us to talk to Him.
- Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
(This article originally appeared in Windows - The monthly church-news and ministry newsletter of Crane Community Chapel.)