Debbie Salter Goodwin
How long can you go without speaking to someone you live with or someone you care about?
Probably not very long. We find ways to talk with those we love and want to hear from.
So why do we shove talking with with God into a corner or put it in a closet to take out when we’re supposed to or when we get desperate?
Prayer is not a quick fix, a miracle cure, or a short-cut to spirituality. Prayer is the communication between best friends. It is the house with an unlocked door. It is the green pastures and still waters that the Psalmist invites us to experience. It is a walk in a garden without leaving home.
What makes us stumble with prayer? What makes us try to manipulate what we want from it? What makes us turn to prayer as a last effort instead of our first defense?
For some it is ignorance or bad models. For others it is fear of not doing it right. Still others treat it as a monologue with an all-too-silent listener.
What if prayer was our only lifeline to spiritual health? What if prayer settled us in ways nothing else could? What if prayer was the intimate connection our soul hungered for in this impersonal world?
In these weeks before Lent, I want to explore what I call transformational prayer. At the heart of every prayer we pray is a cry for some change. We want something to be better, to be fixed, to be clear, to be easier. We want answers or signs or instruction. Even when we think our answers come, we question whether we heard right or heard anything at all.
True prayer transforms. . . us. Why wouldn’t it? Prayer lets us see God’s heart for us. Prayer shows us what His resources can do in us. When prayer is more about the heart we bring rather than the words we say; we begin to know new possibilities of grace, healing, perspective, and love.
Prayer nourished Jesus in ways that food did not. Prayer filled him, strengthened and empowered him. In Scripture we see him taking the path away from people to pray. We know something transformational happened in these times because of what he did after praying. He healed, taught, responded, endured with a confidence and a connection to His Father as the invisible but ever-present partner in everything he said and did.
What if prayer began a work inside us like that? What if prayer changed us before it changed anything else? What if we used prayer to ask God to help us pray the prayers He wanted to answer? What if prayer made us quiet enough to hear God’s whispers of love and affirmation that would heal us in the deep, wounded places in our hearts? What if we could learn the gift of dialogue in prayer as a back and forth rhythm of love and understanding between the Creator and His creation? Then, we would not treat prayer as a fast food drive through. We would linger and listen. We would talk less and hear more. Clarity would come in the form of new perspectives and new prayers.
That’s the journey I want to take you on. I am no expert. I am a learner just like you. But there is no other part of the Christian life I want to learn more about than prayer.
What better way to start 2020 than with a desire for soul-stirring, life-changing, hope-filling prayer. Why live impoverished when a feast waits?