Prayer is where your life and your God meet

I can remember many times early in our marriage when money was tight that my wife would pray for things we needed. She would ask God for shoes for one of the kids and I would marvel when someone called the next day to see if she could bring over shoes her kids had outgrown, or even brand new shoes her child had never worn. I was stunned, but Cindy just smiled and thanked God. She had told no one but God what our needs were. He took care of the rest. She prayed once for our heat to work when we had run out of propane and could not afford more. It did, for weeks.
Why isn’t that the normal, everyday experience of most Christians? James said it like this: “You do not have because you do not ask.” Let’s be honest. Most of the time when we have a need, we take care of it ourselves, even if it means spending money we don’t have. Or we grumble and fret and get angry because we assume God doesn’t care. When we go to God with that need, instead of trying to meet it in our own strength, we grow up in our faith. Prayer directs our hearts to the Lord, who is our source.
Some don’t come to God with daily needs because their theology of God and of prayer doesn’t allow for that; it seems selfish, they say, to ask God to supply their physical needs. In his book, “A Praying Life,” Paul Miller says we over-spiritualize prayer by saying “God is my best gift, I shouldn’t ask Him for anything.” Miller said, “How would your wife react if you said that to her? ‘Don’t ask me for anything. I am your best gift.’ The husband’s love for his wife,” Miller says, “is not disengaged from responding thoughtfully and generously to her requests.” Neither is God’s love for us. Ask God. Tell God your needs and even your wants and desires.
Miller tells the story of a time when he was 9 years old, and his family lived in a two-bedroom cottage. He had to sleep on a cot on the deck, and pajamas were a necessity. When he told his Mom he didn’t have any pajamas, she suggested he pray for some. He did just that, and within a week a bright red pair came in a care package from friends. In the next week, a second pair arrived. “I don’t recall before or since getting a gift of pajamas,” Miller writes. But the answer to his prayer convinced him: “God is concerned about pajamas.”
There are prevailing views of prayer we must avoid. God is not a celestial gumball machine. We must avoid vending machine prayers, just a list of wants and desires like God is a heavenly Santa. We must avoid treating prayer like it is a mantra, meaningless repetition that somehow connects us with the eternal. What did the Zen Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? “Make me one with everything.” We must avoid treating prayer like it is a rabbit’s foot that helps us ward off bad luck. Finally, we must fight to reject prayer as a ritual or a religious exercise, something we must “do” every day so that God will love us. Again, apply any of those methods to communication in marriage and see how far it gets you.
Prayer is about relationship. David Powlison said, “Prayer is meant to be the conversation where your life and your God meet.”
Why not get started on that relationship today?