Unwavering: Praying Dependent Prayers Consistently
Praying is breathing. As air is necessary to the wellbeing of the physical body, praying is to the spiritual body. We are born breathing air and our spiritual beings are created to pray. Prayer is intrinsic to our makeup as we are created creatures that find their completeness in their Creator. Children are born able to pray but somehow lose this ability as the rational part of their brains developed. We, who are not longer children, have to relearn this intrinsic and essential skill.
Praying is as natural as breathing. Praying is the act of being in communion with God. Unfortunately over the ages religious authorities, teachings and traditions have made this most natural of activity, unnatural. We have been taught that prayer is an action we have to perform at certain times, in a certain way, using certain formulas so that what we do becomes what is commonly known as ‘prayers’. To some prayers may be what happens when a priest or pastor pray aloud at the altar in front of a church during Sunday services. To others, are the images of Jesus agonizing in prayer at Gethsemane with sweat and tears of blood. To yet others, it is a part of certain time named ‘quiet time’ which is all but quiet as they verbalize a list of requests or petitions to the Almighty. All this require effort and discipline on our part to perform these types of prayers. It is no longer like breathing where we breathe without thinking. This may be one of the reasons why prayer is the most talked about spiritual activity, affirmed to be essential, yet hardly ever practiced if we are honest about our spiritual life.
There is never fear that our prayers will not be heard or rejected. Jesus gives us an excellent illustration and commentary concerning this in Luke 11:5-13:
LK 11:5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
LK 11:7 “Then the one inside answers, `Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
LK 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
LK 11:11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (NIV)
How then may we move away from mechanical formulaic praying to a more natural way? Perhaps the first step is to recognize that there are many types of other than the verbal forms we are familiar with. These other forms includes the meditative, contemplative and unitive. Though different in forms, they are the same in essence as defined in 1 Chronicles 16:1:
1CH 16:11 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. (NIV)
Furthermore, instead of doing prayer, we need to seek to be pray-ers. What I meant is that for prayer to be natural, there need to be a foundational change in our beings. We must become S.T.O.R.K. prayers. A common cultural metaphor for the stork is that it delivers bundle of joy (baby). The S.T.O.R.K. acronym here describes a person who prays or is a pray-er who delivers joyful prayers to the Lord. It stands for:
· Right with God
· Know God
Submission to the revealed will of God and acceptance of our role in His creation is a hallmark of a natural pray-er. It is in submission that we find true freedom and true contentment. We expand a lot of psychic energy rebelling against what we know is expected of us. Our intrinsic nature is a rebellious one. We want to have our own way. We want instant gratification. As long as we refuse to submit, we will find praying hard. Consciously or subconsciously, we know that we are not being honest in what we express to God. We are aware of our hidden agendas.
We must be willing to trust God. It is ludicrous that we trust human specialists such as specialist doctors to take care of our health, and financial planners, our wealth yet find it difficult to trust God with our whole being. We acknowledge God as the omniscience, omnipotent and omnipresence yet have our little ‘insurance policies’ in case God fails to deliver. If we are able to let go and allow God to take care of everything, yet faithfully doing our part, our prayers will become a natural part of our being.
To be faithfully doing our part as ‘co-creators’ in this present creation means that our lives should be a life of obedience to God’s revealed code of moral ethical living. Obedience means doing what Jesus taught us in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. It is to loving God, others and ourselves. It is restoring the lost souls to the Kingdom of God. We should be helping to restore the fallen image of God in one another. It is to feed the hungry, comfort the suffering, defend the exploited, protect the widows and children, and stand together against the evil of the age.
Natural prayer comes from being ‘right with God’. It means that we should not be harboring known sins in our minds, hearts and souls. Sins have a way of poisoning the part and corrupting the whole. This is where confession and repentance comes in. We should let the Holy Spirit bring light to the darkest recesses of our beings. His light will drive out and remove these hidden sins.
Our God is a self-revealing God. Hence it is possible to know Him. It is often not enough to know Him cognitively. All the facts about God are never complete until we have met Him in a divine encounter. This experiential knowledge of God opens our physical and spiritual minds and hearts to the Great Mystery who is Three-yet-One. It also opens us to this God who is both immanent and transcendent, Who has been present and working tirelessly in our everyday life all the time. It is only because we are spiritually blinded that we do not see this.
S.T.O.R.K. prayers are people to whom praying is as natural as breathing. This is because they are already aware that they are already in communion with God, in whom all ‘things moves, and lives and have their being’. Prayer should be as natural as breathing and as equally as life giving.