In any conversation that you may have ever been a part of, or any conversation that you may have witnessed, there will always be something in common with all of them: they always consist of more than just one person. There’s something else that makes a conversation a conversation. It’s listening. In any conversation, there’s almost always just as much—if not more—listening going on than there is talking. Any conversation is giving and taking, talking and listening.
Let’s talk about a conversation that we can enter into that could just be the very backbone of our faith.
THAT CONVERSATION IS PRAYER.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reads, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Pray continually? What? When we first read that little part of this passage here, it can sort of overwhelm us if we read it with this understanding that prayer is supposed to be this ritualistic and habitual thing that we just have to do. But it doesn't have to be that way! What if we started to understand prayer as this ongoing conversation and dialogue with our Father? With the Creator? That we can even be in prayer with Him in our cars? At work? Doing the dishes? Going on a walk? When we see that prayer can be like this, all of the sudden that little part of the passage there doesn't look so bad. In fact, it looks exciting! It looks inviting! We can cultivate this type of vibrancy into our prayer lives.
Here are 4 ways that I have seen it blossom in mine:
As mentioned, any good and effective conversation has much listening; specifically attentive listening. As we go about our day, we can always have an open heart and an open mind to God and to what He may be speaking. Be receptive! We can be in prayer all day as we go about our everyday actions without even saying a word. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is just come before God with all ears.
2. IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE PSALMS
When we read the Psalms, we see David, who is the primary author, constantly in prayer. That is essentially what these little songs, poems, or stanzas are. They are prayers! When we immerse ourselves in the Psalms, we see prayers that are always adoring God; we see prayers that are constantly seeking refuge; but we also see prayers that have no edit button or censor! David wasn't afraid to bring it all before the Lord. And neither should we! He invites that. The more and more we are in the Psalms, a very authentic prayer life, as modeled by David, can become evident in our own lives.
3. PRAY FOR OTHERS
There is just something extremely powerful when brothers and sisters intercede on each other’s behalf before the Lord in prayer. We see it in Paul’s writing all over the place, when he begins his letter with great thanksgiving for the recipients, and also as he makes it very known to them that he is constantly remembering them in his prayers before God. Philemon begins with this beautiful admonishment, as it says, “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers…”. There is power in prayer for others! And not just for the ones that we are lifting up. But even for ourselves! It’s hard to explain, but the Holy Spirit truly draws near as we intercede on behalf of others. Maybe because intercession is something that the Holy Spirit is all too familiar with. (Romans 8:26)
4. LET’S JUST ASK JESUS!
Of all the things that Jesus’ disciples could've asked Him after spending all that time with Him, they asked Him to show them how to pray. Whenever we are stuck, or feel stagnant in prayer, let us do the same! Jesus answers in Matthew 6:9-13:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
This prayer covers everything. In the beginning, we have adoration; in the middle, we have a request that He alone may be our source of satisfaction. Toward the end, we have confession and seek forgiveness, and plead to be delivered from temptation and the evil path. If we don’t know where to begin with prayer, let us always begin here. I mean, it’s Jesus teaching us how to pray. That seems like a great place to start!