The way we connect with God is through prayer. Prayer, in its essence, is our connection to and with God through the Holy Spirit. Prayer is how we are united to God. Prayer is talking to God, but prayer is also listening to God, for prayer is one of the primary ways God communicates with us. Prayer is us reaching out to God, but prayer is also anticipating and waiting on God to speak to our hearts. Just as real communication cannot take place if two people are simultaneously talking to (or at!) each other, never listening to the other, prayer that is limited to our monologue aimed at God is not the truest form of prayer even if it might be the most widely form practiced.
Scriptures shows Jesus often went to God in prayer, and even records some of his prayers. But what we don’t really see as explicitly is Him waiting on God, listening attentively. Yet He must have, for in John’s gospel in several places Jesus claims only to say what He has heard the Father say, or that He says only what the Father taught Him to say.
In Luke’s gospel, we know He went off and spent the night on the mountain in God’s presence. Prayer is investing time, not just dialogue, in our relationship with God.
We take prayer seriously, but we don’t take prayer religiously. People who think prayer has to look a certain way, sound a certain way, “feel” a certain way, don’t do too well at first in our prayer groups. We simply break too many “you should” prayer rules.
Sometimes, prayer is loud, insistent, intercessory.
Sometimes, prayer is quiet, waiting on God.
Sometimes, prayer is sitting or lying under the weight of God’s presence, letting Him minister to us.
We wrestle with what it means to “pray without ceasing.” We seek to have open ears; open eyes, and hearts so in tune with God that our hearts break over the same things that break His heart.
Our church prays during worship, and we pray when we are called upon, for the ministry of prayer is a major ministry of AllPoints. Frequently, we meet brothers or sisters in other churches for prayer, to strengthen them where they are in the Body of Christ.
Many times, we go and pray when other ministers call upon us to be intercessors in areas their denomination or background or belief systems keeps them from going, particularly in areas of healing, or what is popularly shown on TV as the “para-normal.” (We think Scripture quaintly calls it the “demonic.”)
When we pray, we expect to see God move. We have been blessed to see people healed, or set free, or made whole, right before our eyes. Other times our prayer ministry with an individual or family extends over a period of time, as God draws them deeper into Himself. Many times, the answer to prayer comes in a way we did not anticipate, but over time it becomes clear the answer came in the best way for all concerned. However, and this is important, we have never seen things remain the same following prayer.
Prayer is so important to God that when we don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit prays—“intercedes”—for us [Romans 8:26] with sighs or groans too deep for words or, literally, even sound, and the Spirit prays for us in agreement with God’s will for our lives.
Jesus himself stands at the right hand of the Throne, praying for each of us (whether we “want” it or not!)
“Spiritual warfare” is only conducted through and by prayer. As Abba Agathon observed centuries ago, “…prayer is warfare to the last breath.” [The brothers also asked Abba Agathon “Amongst all good works, which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort?” He answered “Forgive me, but I think there is no labour greater than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him. For they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath.”]
99% of prayer is just showing up and sitting before God, regardless of how you feel at the time.
But when it’s all said and done, prayer is about relationship, and if you are going to have a right relationship with God, you will by necessity become a pray-er!