Prayer. So what comes into your mind when you think of that word? A dusty old chapel full of an older generation? A ritualistic verse learnt off by heart said before a meal? The smells and bells of a high church service? Something said but never meant? Or an infrequent cry from the heart only made in dire circumstances? Is it something which excites you – or is a chore? A duty, burden, or release? Is it a chain, or is it freedom? Too often I myself have treated prayer as a duty and a chore. A juicy discussion seems to come far more naturally to me than praying to our heavenly Father – and I spend far more time in leisure than praying. I’m sure many of you may feel the same – and it's likely many of you may also desire a deeper prayer life, inspired by great prayer warriors, as do I. We see heroes of faith in the Bible, and they seem so far removed from ourselves, their prayer life and devotion to God unobtainable to ‘normal people’.
Don’t we so often look up to people like Jesus’ disciples, and say to ourselves that we can never be like them? “They were so extraordinary, and I’m just me”? Let me ask you, what did the disciples do when Jesus was pouring his heart out to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane in the hours before his arrest? They were sleeping! Blundering just like we blunder. And if they are no different than us, then it follows that we can pray like they learnt to as well! This is portrayed excellently in the Chosen TV Series. One thing stands out to me more than anything else while watching it – they are so normal! They are normal people! As also prayer warriors of today, like George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization – all normal people! It’s us and our perception that places them on a pedestal. In reality they faced the same struggles as we do.
Learning to pray – and see it more than a chore – has to be something from the heart. It’s like a long-distance relationship. Effort does need to be put into keeping in contact, but when you do that, the closer you grow together, and the easier the conversation flows. There will be times we slip up, it happens to me all the time. But, different to long-distance relationships, God is never far from us – it is us who sometimes move farther from God. And, just like Jesus was patient with his disciples, so he is also patient with us as we toddlers learn how to talk with our Father.
Reader, you are PRECIOUS to God! He loves you more than words can describe. This is the one who will take all your mess onto himself on the cross and make it his own, if you let him. This is the one who wiped your slate clean and will give you a future in heaven, if you trust in him. This is the one who is waiting for you to talk with him. This is the one who longs to listen to you. This is the one who yearns to give you his peace, his joy, his everlasting life, which are all available to us when we put our faith in Jesus.
I will leave you with a quote from George Verwer, one of my favourite prayer-warriors:
“We are ordinary people who struggle, make mistakes and have weaknesses. I have become more and more convinced that God fills and uses different types of people, many of whom may not look very promising by normal standards.” - George Verwer