I am a man of faith, for the record, and I believe in another plane of unseen…spiritual…stuff.
What that stuff is, exactly, I can’t always define in an articulate manner; however, I do have enough meaningful life experiences, that cannot be explained in any other way, but to convince me of God’s existence and an alternative realm that remains sight-unseen.
If you’re not there or never wish to be there, don’t worry, this is not a judgmental diatribe of how I think that you must adopt my own philosophies: keep reading, without trepidation. To pray is to communicate with God, in the most simplified definition of the word. In my opinion, if your prayer is honest and sincere—regardless of the contents therein—there’s no such thing as an invalid prayer.
The reasons for communication with God are as varied as the people who utter the holy words:
- finding encouragement or justification,
- seeking solace or answers,
- expressing endless thanks and gratification,
- or simply crying and pleading for intervention in your own circumstances.
In conjunction, and in the same breath, I also believe that no prayer is guaranteed to receive attention or response from God himself; nor should you approach praying with that mindset. God is not a three-wish, magical genie who awaits your personal whims and desires. Truth. Sorry.
Ok, I know you’re wondering…so what’s the point? And here’s the pay-off: prayer changes things (but not always what you expect).
Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. ~ Soren Kierkegaard
People, in general, are self-sufficient (or wish to be, or wish to imagine that they are indeed flying high in their own successes), registering at the top of the I’ve-Got-It-All-Together-Like-A-Rock-Star-In-My-Own-Life scale. Dependency on yourself is an extremely difficult, and slightly foolish, way to live your life—I speak from experience.
When you pray—under the premise of complete honesty and sincerity—you will be changed from within. With the bone-chilling temperatures outside, and within my frozen home, I can liken the experience of prayer to that of thawing your heart, from the inside out. If your personality is defined as stubborn or cold-hearted or quasi-dead inside, I guarantee you will find another approach and perspective within the process of prayer.
While they come in all shapes and forms, I would say that the stereotypical prayer is that of need. To utter a prayer for help is to admit your own weakness, insufficiency, and faults. When you’re in this emotional state of semi-helplessness, your spirit is in a perfect place for introspection and revelation, which may result in personal change and meaningful growth.
Surgeon General’s Warning: the by-products of praying may include gratitude, empathy, kindness, and increased respect for many aspects of your life that were otherwise invisible or insignificant.
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. ~ Martin Luther
Honestly, I think I can hold my breath for exactly…well, let me conduct a field experiment here…yes, 38 seconds. If praying (according to Martin Luther) is essential to life, why do men of faith opt for a casual, prayer-free life when the comfortable circumstances of daily existence do not demand intervention from God?
Well, that’s an answer to a question that you must define for yourself.
Is it difficult to pray? Not really. I can speak to my Lord while I ride the bus, wash the dog, or drive on a highway.
When you’ve chosen to omit prayer from your daily life, is there an actual reason or is it based on pure laziness?
Well, that’s an answer to another question that you must also define for yourself.
Once again, to be a praying person is to be a man or woman who admits that they haven’t figured out and mastered all aspects of living in this mixed-up world. That’s a difficult truth to admit, on a reoccurring basis.
I think that we try to hold our breath—metaphorically speaking, of course—for as long as we can, and sometimes that duration can last days, weeks, months, and years, before we realize the foolishness of our endeavors.
Food for thought: if you knew all of life’s mysteries, would you really need the help from a god; would you even believe in the existence of such a god?
Well, that’s one final answer to a very important question which you and only you can define for yourself.
When you live a life of comfort, devoid of immediate needs or concerns, what purpose does prayer serve in a life? Well, that may be a topic for another day, another perspective.
Perhaps, just perhaps, maybe the death of my thermostat and heating system was just the circumstance that I needed, to draw me closer to God, through prayer, and an increased realization of my own inability to master the craziness of this world—a fact that I seem to forget, from time to time, from month to month.