The answer is prayer. So here’s motivation for prayer #2: It is the very heart of what it means to relate to God. Do you want to enjoy a strong relationship with God? Of course you do. Then get down to praying. Our God speaks and loves it when we listen, but it takes two to tango and so he wants us to speak to him too. It’s like that with any relationship of course. If the conversation only goes one way, the whole thing gets pretty stunted, but if the conversation is free flowing then the relationship gets deeper and more satisfying as time goes on.
Communion with God
The 16th century theologian John Owen used to distinguish between union with God and communion with God. The work of Jesus on our behalf means that our union with God, by faith, is unshakable. Whether I’ve prayed or not has no bearing on whether I’m accepted by God. That’s always, only ever by grace. But my communion with him can be stronger or weaker and one of the ways to enjoy strong communion with him is by praying.
Paul says in Philippians 4:6-7:
'Do not be anxious about anything,but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'
There’s lots that’s great about those verses but did you notice how it ends? As you pray, so the peace of God will guard your hearts. You will have a greater experience of God’s peace as you come to him with you concerns and thanks.
Similarly as we pray so we can ask for more of God. A greater knowledge of him (Eph 1:17; Col 1:10) and of his power (Eph 1:19), and a deeper grasp of his love that results in us being filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:19), are all things we should be asking for and I like the sound of it all! It’s about deep relationship and it comes through prayer. That’s not to say it’s easy or achieved in a jiffy, but time in prayer and meditation on God’s word will yield those things. Which brings me on to my next point…
Conversation with God
If I only ever bombarded Susie (that’s my wife) with requests and never listened and responded to her we’d have a pretty dysfunctional relationship. So too with God. It’s good to bring our concerns to God (1 Peter 5:6-7), but if that’s all we ever do, we’ll only ever enjoy a certain depth of relationship with him. If we are in the habit of conversing with him about what he’s said then we’ll find the relationship strengthens and our prayers will come more into line with his will.
This is what people mean when they talk about 'praying in the passage'. It’s a profound yet simple thing to do. Having asked God for help, it involves reading and thinking about what God is saying in his word. Then as you begin to understand it and grasp what implications it has for your life you pray to God about that. Using the words of the passage to do that can be helpful in doing that. You are listening to God and then responding. It’s the essence of relationship and the more you do it, the stronger the relationship will get (For a brilliant example of this check out King David’s prayer in 2 Samuel 7:18-29 as he responds to what God has just said to him. Go on, look it up now!).
To pray is to relate to God and I know we all want that as much as anything in the world.
Image: Takkk (Cretaive Commons)