By Sally Lombardo (From her new Bible Study: Honest Prayer)
Yesterday, I sat with a friend at a neighborhood tea house, and we talked about hospital chaplaincy.
We talked about the beautiful effects of prayer—how it calms us, invites hope into the day, and builds a bridge between our hearts and the heart of God.
When you listen and pray with a patient in the hospital, no matter how awkward or brief the prayer, it becomes an intimate, life-giving journey.
Prayer is just like that. Later that day, I reflected on how conversations with God do the same thing. We begin our prayers in stumbling words, yet we become more comfortable as moments pass and words flow. We discover a presence is listening on the other side, and we are comforted. No matter how we tend to pray, most of us gain a sense of calm and renewed hope, and we feel strangely changed. This is part of God’s intention and may be why he created prayer—to build a relationship with him.
In his spiritual guidebook, Sacred Pathways, author Gary Thomas describes the various ways people connect with God based on their spiritual temperaments. Some people are naturalists and find that walking and praying in nature is calming; some are sensates and find inspiration inside sanctuaries of stained glass; some are helpers and find God in caring for and praying with others. God has made himself apparent in the world, and we have the freedom to look for him in the ways that draw us closer.
Throughout centuries, people have prayed incorporate worship, in private prayer, or in spontaneous cries of the heart. In all its unique forms and places of expression, prayer helps us drink in God’s presence, quiet our hearts, and find that while we pray, God is listening and waiting to respond. Someone once asked Mother Teresa an interesting question about prayer: “What do you say to God when you pray?” I don’t say anything. I just listen,” she replied. The questioner persisted: “Well then, what does God say back to you?” He doesn’t say anything. He just listens.”
As we journey into honest prayer, we will find God is listening to us, too.
About Honest Prayer:
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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