These past few months, our Life Group has been working through Beloved Dust by Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin. It’s not just a book about prayer but it’s a book that helps set a foundation for prayer. In that sense, the book is largely about de-constructing our picture and practice of prayer while re-constructing a biblical picture and practice of prayer as flowing out of the gospel. What’s been incredibly valuable is the accompanying workbook has “pushed” us into the experiential realm by giving us “prayer projects” each week. The times that we have shared about our experiences with prayer during the week have been some of the most honest and invigorating times I’ve had in a small group!
For some time, I’ve been mulling over a thought I’ve had about prayer. There is much value to developing a life of prayer, something that I’m learning at an older age. It seems to me another great value of prayer is it functions a window into our relationship with God. In other words, if you want to see what you really think about your relationship with God and how you treat it, take a look at your prayer life. The odd thing is I can somehow think the relationship is doing well but if I used my prayer life as a gauge, I would quickly conclude just the opposite.
This is evident if my prayer life is characterized by going to God only when I’m in a pinch, If I were to gauge my relationship with God, most likely in would honestly concluded in the end that I really don’t the God of the Bible, but rather a quick fix or solution to get me out of trouble. He is less of a Master over the entirety of my life but rather the “button” I push when I realize that I need help. Certainly that keeps God in the margins of life only to be pulled out when crisis hits.
But there are other ways that we pray. For some it is mechanical, somewhat rote or memorized with no real heart involved. Of course, for young believers it’s helpful to provide “steps”. But what about people who have walked with Christ for many years? For others there is an underlying sense of performance. For others prayer is a means to a greater end (we pray not to get God Himself but to get something else). For others, prayer is entered into sporadically because of busyness.
In all of this, my question is (and mostly to myself) what does my prayer life say about my relationship with God? If I were to look at my prayer life and how it is exercised in my life, what might I conclude about my relationship with God? The gospel is clear in stating that because of the new covenant, God will now never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). But what might I conclude about how I see God or how I treat God?
As we enter into this Lenten season where the focus is on Christ (not what we give up), how might our life of prayer change if we used our current practice of prayer as an indication of how strong the relationship is? Lent is a time of prayerfully preparing our hearts for the resurrected Christ.