When you pray, go to your room and close the door. Pray privately to your Father who is with you. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)
I most often pray in private these days. I used to pray out loud for my group in Bible Study. I prayed during praise and worship time in Church. But neither of those was as meaningful as when I prayed alone, in solitude with God.
Now, I continue to pray in solitude because I know He listens. I feel His presence. I am a recipient of His amazing grace and unconditional love.
Many of my prayers are answered, small and large. When they are not, I wait; I understand the “Not now,” response. And if God’s answer is, “No,” I regroup, seek the lesson therein and move on. Some “No”s are more difficult than others, but I have come to trust in Him.
Then, after the crowd had gone, Jesus went up to a mountaintop alone (as He had intended from the start). As evening descended, He stood alone on the mountain, praying. (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46)
Sometimes, after I’ve been among a crowd of people, I feel empty. I need respite and solitude. I need to be alone with God, for Him to fill me up.
I used to resist that filling, thinking I had to do it myself. Now, I see the folly in that, for only God can fill me to overflowing. Only God can fill every cell of my being with grace, love, compassion and forgiveness.
Filling is a choice; it only happens when we lay ourselves open to the healing powers of God. Healing occurs at different levels: physical, mental and emotional. When I pray, I communicate with God; it is a two-way street. Praying is a nurturing of our relationship. When I don’t pray, I shut Him out.
At that time Jesus went to a mountain to pray. He spent the whole night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)
I spent the whole night in prayer only twice in my life and both were exhilarating experiences. Now, I usually pray to Him throughout the day through praying to the Spirit or Jesus or the Father, whoever seems appropriate at the time.
Whenever I receive a prayer request from a friend, I immediately stop what I’m doing and pray at that moment. Prayer is an important part of life as a follower of Jesus, not only for me but for those around me – even sometimes non-believers.
As I choose to pray for a non-believer going through hard times or for a health issue, I am usually thanked, never excoriated (well, almost never). I do not used prayer lightly or use it as an excuse to get to know someone, to look deeply into his or her heart.
“Prayer is an important part of life as a follower of Jesus, not only for me but for those around me – even sometimes non-believers. I do not used prayer lightly or use it as an excuse to get to know someone, to look deeply into his or her heart.”
Just as people have “love languages,” so they have communication styles. For some, prayer must be formal, steeped in ceremony, ritual and tradition. It should contain solemn precision and prescribed steps in order to be considered right and holy.
Others prefer prayers conducted by other people in groups, and must contain certain words in a certain order to be considered official and legitimate. To pray outside these “norms” is considered heretical, certainly unacceptable to the “God in a box” created by those judging the “abnormal” prayer life of others.
On the other hand, you and I can simply talk with God the way we talk with each other without form or ceremony. Or we can create our own private ritual. Or we can simply walk or sit with Him and have a conversation anytime.
Our heart is our church and God has no limits. He doesn’t need a brick and mortar building to communicate with us or hear our prayers. He’s waiting to provide you with His lavish grace and scandalous love.
“It isn’t necessary that we stay in church in order to remain in God’s presence. We can make our hearts personal chapels where we can enter anytime to talk to God privately. These conversations can be so loving and gentle, and anyone can have them.” Brother Lawrence