When Paul points to prayer as a first priority, he lists a variety of prayers. As light has a spectrum, so too, prayer has different colours or forms. Prayer can be asking for daily concerns, an expression of thanks or advocating for others in need. There is more than one type of prayer and these are not in competition. It would be hard to argue that one is more spiritual than the other since God has chosen to bless them all! Each mode of praying meets a need within our spiritual life. Different types of prayer may fit our varied place of pilgrimage. Young faith is often a time to focus on God’s provision and protection. We do a lot of asking in prayer and discover early that God is faithful to care for His children. We don't abandon prayer petitions as we mature, but there may be other dimensions of faith that prayer is leading us to explore.
If that sounds familiar, here’s a self-test. What would happen if you talked to your loved ones the same way you talk to God? Would a monologue “to-do” list crammed into a few minutes of the day help the relationship? It’s unlikely. Relationships crave connection and communication that feeds that connection. That is the gift of prayer. It creates room to listen to God. There is a prayer posture that surrenders the agenda back to Him. It is less about talking and more about silence. In wordless waiting we let God know that we are available. It demonstrates our heart’s longing for Him and not just His gifts. Silence can morph prayer from just a means of getting to a pathway of knowing.
Prayer embraces the gifts of silence, stillness and solitude. Those are scarce qualities in our society, so listening in prayer may be an adjustment for us. But we can learn. Since our broken nature tends to hide and is bent towards self, our growth in this prayer comes only by God’s grace. And He is gracious! This form of prayer will confound the cause and effect paradigm. “Do this and you will get that.” This prayer may look like passive inactivity but it will surprise us. Nothing is more productive for the soul than waiting upon God. Prayer can open our understanding to the ways of God and the rhythm and beat of our own spirit. But supremely, prayer leads us to a fresh understanding of His love. It is an unspoken language of devotion that satisfies our longing hearts.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope; My soul waits for the Lord,
More than watchmen for the morning, More than watchmen for the morning.” Ps.130:5,6
This week review from the Psalms the repeated exhortation to wait and be still before God. ( Ps.27:14, Ps.37:5-7, Ps.33:20-22, Ps.40:1, Ps.62, etc)
Have you noted what your life becomes without times of silence and stillness? What happens? What happens to your connection with God?
What are the challenges to finding stillness before God in your day?
Consider the pattern of your prayers - whose voice is dominant?
What is God inviting you to this week?