By Pastor Royston Smith
Everyone has an inbuilt desire for relationships. We want to connect with others, share ideas, experiences and knowledge, among other things. Where healthy communication exists, relationships thrive. Prayer is our means of communication with God. It is a two-way dialogue in which we are both able to talk to God and listen to Him. Praying to God is somewhat like the conversations children have with their parents. Children generally ask for things they are convinced they need (they confuse wants for needs), directions and some even welcome good advice. Praying to God is the spiritual exercise that builds trust and relationship. Dictionary.com defines prayer as, “an act of worship, a formula or sequence of words, or a religious practice.” To some extent, they capture the essence of prayer but fall short of its true meaning.
There are so many benefits to be gained from prayer. When I am stressed or worried, I find peace when I talk with God. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The advice found in this passage has calmed my anxieties on several occasions. In times of hardship, adversity and danger, I turn to God in prayer. The power of prayer is undisputed, and many can testify of recovery from illness as a result of prayers given on their behalf.
Mahatma Gandhi describes prayer as the “longing of the soul to be one with God, and a daily admission of one’s weakness.” It helps to rebuild the broken bridge between us and God. Prayer is more about relationship than requests. I talk to God, not because I want something from Him, but because he is everything to me. When we recognise the importance of prayer, our understanding of God will change. Spending time talking with our friends and families builds intimacy. We become familiar with their likes and dislikes, so we seek to please them. It is the same with God. Through prayer we develop such spiritual intimacy that we are happy to exchange our will for His. “Surrendering of the will to God …and the aligning of my will to the will of God” Stanley Jones.
My wife and I have one daughter who at times struggles with loneliness. She finds it a challenge to maintain lasting friendships because being a pastoring family, we often re-locate. One day she came to me heartbroken about her situation, I told her that the only solution I saw was to ask God to find her a friend. She agreed, and my little girl consistently prayed for God to find her that very special friend. Together, we followed the advice of the Apostle Paul,” Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” Over the last two weeks she has been meeting up with a play date, Dana (not her real name). God has answered her prayer. God is interested in all aspects of our lives.
Jesus is our perfect example of the powerful effect of prayer on our lives. In the midst of His busy schedule of—healing, casting out devils, responding to impatient disciples, traveling from town to town, and teaching in the synagogues—we find these quiet words: “In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there” (Mark 1:35) Jesus’s habit and lifestyle were saturated with prayer. He prayed daily in order to maintain that vital connection with God. Jesus prayed about the large issues as well as those that seem insignificant. Schedule a regular time to talk with God. He is always available.
Dear God, teach me how to pray. Teach me the importance of trusting you. Please help me to daily connect with you so I will be resilient in difficult times. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.