Whenever I’ve wanted to learn how to ski on harder terrain, I’ve taken a lesson.
The instructor has always started me on a slope I consider to be way too easy. There he has taken me back to the basics of skiing.
Initially, this approach made me feeling frustrated. However, after the lesson, I realized there were two reasons why the instructor did this. First, he wanted to observe and assess my skiing ability. Second, it’s because he knows it’s crucial to get the essential techniques right before moving onto harder terrain so as not to get stuck.
It’s the same with prayer. Sometimes, we need to go back and review the fundamentals of prayer. If we have a good understanding of why and how we pray, then prayer is going to help us especially when the going gets tough.
I speak and write a lot about prayer, and I want us to think in the same way when it comes to praying.
I want you to know when I give you a prayer, when I invite you to pray, and when I say I will pray for you, what I mean by this.
To start with, we’ll look at who I pray to. Then I want you to think about who you pray to. Finally, my invitation is for you to pray to the same “who.”
Pray to the living God.
This might sound odd, but over the centuries people have prayed to all sorts of gods who are not alive. You only have to go to a museum and view Egyptian artifacts to know what I mean. There you will see images representing Osiris and other gods and goddesses.
The reason I emphasis the living God is because he is able to listen and speak. We want to be heard when we pray. If not, what’s the point. Throughout the Bible, it will say God heard the prayers being made. The same God hears our prayers, too. God also speaks, which means he can respond to our prayers.
Pray to the Eternal God who is Creator.
The Eternal God the Creator is set apart and different from us. He is distinct. He has always existed. He created everything, including you and me.
This means we can be confident our prayers to God make a difference. It is not worth praying to someone no better than us.
Pray to the God who comes to us.
You don’t have to search out God. The living God is not distant—somewhere out there. We don’t have to be concerned we’re put words into outer space hoping they reach him.
God always makes the effort to come close to us. God came down and spent time with Adam and Eve in the garden. God made himself known to Abraham. And, the ultimate expression of God coming to us is Jesus—God in a human being and called Emmanuel—God with us.
Pray to God the Father.
Jesus taught us to pray in this way. We are to pray to his Father, who is also our Father.
We can pray to God as our Father because Jesus made it possible.
Sometimes our view of God as a Father is negative because the relationship with our earthly father is far from perfect. Then it can be hard because these feelings affect our view of God . Yet, we must try and replace our distorted view of fatherhood with the truths God says about himself as the perfect Father in the Bible.
Pray to God who wants a relationship with you.
We have already learned that God takes the initiative to come to us.
God wants a relationship with you. And, when we are in a relationship—especially one where we are in love with the other person—we want to communicate with them. You might not feel sure that you’re in love with God, but he definitely loves you and he longs to have a relationship with you.
Prayer is how we speak to the God who longs to have a relationship with us.
Does this view of God resemble the God you pray to? If not, to whom are you directing your prayers?
I invite you to say this prayer with me:
Eternal, living God, Creator of all things, and my heavenly Father because of Jesus, it is to YOU I direct my prayers. Hear my prayer. Amen.