Prayer: What’s Really Going On?

If there’s one thing I struggle most with in my relationship with the Lord, it is my prayer life. Praying has been a constant struggle, ever since I can remember.  Somehow, somewhere, I lost the reverence and reality of prayer.

When we pray, what exactly are we doing?

When I was little, I visualized prayer as the Holy Spirit listening to my thoughts when I started my prayer when I said, “Dear Jesus…” and then when I said, “Amen,” the Holy Spirit would run my prayer up to God. I could not have been more incorrect. The Bible depicts my humble prayers being ushered into the throne room of God, Himself. Because of my salvation through Him, I am taken directly to God. Not only, do I get a personal audience with the King, but I also get to come to Him boldly (Heb 4:16).

Why is the process of prayer compared to that of a ‘throne room’? In the book of Esther, we are given an example of what was involved in receiving an audience with King Xerxes. The king’s own wife was not even allowed to enter his presence without his expressed invitation. Queen Esther put her life on the line by simply requesting to see the King. With a simple wave of his hand, he could have put Queen Esther to death. This is the portrait of a throne room in the Old Testament, contradictory to buddy-buddy feeling.

We can also examine the practices of the Israelites, as they followed specific directions in order to enter the Holy of Holies. Only once a year could the high priest enter into God’s presence. If the priest was lacking in one area of the specified directions, he would instantly drop dead. Again, not an enticing picture of approaching God with needs and concerns.

With the previous examples in mind, think what the original audience of Heb 4:16, “… come boldly unto the throne of grace…” would have thought. This would be an unheard of honor. Imagine the excitement and awe. God wanted to meet with them, on an individual level and no human had to be there or facilitate.

So, how did this drastic difference in approach happen?

Well, the resurrection of Jesus Christ broke the barrier between God and man. Christ’s followers are given access to God, as Christ Himself has access to God. We are the sons and daughters of God. We now can approach our holy Father, much like we allow our earthly children to access us.

What is this throne room like?

In the book of Daniel, we get an idea of the grandeur of the throne room of God. Daniel is overcome by majesty and holiness that he falls down as a dead man as he is visited by an Angel of God. (Dan 10). John has a similar experience as he relays his visions of Revelation. Moses was allowed to see only God’s shadow and his face literally glowed for days.

If you were given an audience with the Queen of England, you would most certainly look your best. Hopefully, you would not show up in cut off jeans, flip flops, and a t-shirt. Likely you would plan your wardrobe in advance, research proper etiquette, and practice your greeting in the mirror. Can we do less for our audience with the God of the Universe?

This privilege of prayer is something to be done in absolute worship and reverence. How often do I shoot up a prayer to God, thanking Him for food, and then continue my conversation with friends? What a mockery our days’ age has made of prayer. We have vain repetitions (Matt 6:7) such as beginning prayer with, “Dear Jesus,” “Dear Heavenly Father,” as if addressing a letter. These phrases become habit, rather than grasping the, “dearness,” of God. Prayer almost has a template of what is expected. We start with, “Dear Jesus,” and end with, “In Jesus name, Amen.” There is nothing wrong with these words per se, and they most certainly should be used, but do we even realize what we are saying? God is not a distant character any more. We can talk to him as if we are talking directly to Him, but this conversation should be done with respect.

Pick a Scenario

If you analyze the different conversations you may have with friends, I highly doubt you ever have the exact same conversation more than once. Now, with an acquaintance, you may have multiple similar conversations like:

“Hey, how are you?”

“Good, good, and you?

“Oh, I’m fine too”

“Good!”

“Okay, see you later!”

“Okay, bye!”

This is the type of conversation you have with someone you don’t know very well, but that’s not how it’s supposed to be with God. If you see your best friend, who knows where that conversation can lead? You have some much to catch up on and you listen attentively as each other speaks. A lot of times, you don’t even want those conversations to end…

Which scenario do you find most familiar in your prayer life? The acquaintance? Or, the best friend?

Changing it up

Here are some ideas to change things up. We can use His other names and break up the monotony of our vain repetitions. How about starting a prayer with, “El Shaddai, thank you for allowing me to enter Your presence today…”

I heard one preacher begin his prayer with, “Dad”. I never thought of addressing God like that before. When I heard him call on God by saying, “Dad”, I immediately looked up and thought, “Wow, that is amazing. I know in my head that God is my Father, but yes, He’s my Dad!”

Here’s the challenge, as you pray today and this week, try changing up your lingo. Change up how you address the Holy of Holies, fill your prayer time with information and feelings (like you would tell your best friend), then end your prayers creatively.

In one sentence, talk to God like you mean it, talk to God like He’s real.

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