I have done quite a bit of reading lately on the subject of prayer, not by choice (I am not a reader), but for one of my classes. What I have gleaned from them is partially what I already knew, in the sense that prayer is a necessity in the Christian life. To be a Christian, or should I say, a follower of Jesus Christ, one must have and cultivate a relationship with him. How do we cultivate a relationship without communication? It is impossible as far as I know.
We communicate with Christ through prayer and meditation. It is during this time that He speaks to us (assuming we are listening). Prayer is our way of communicating with God; expressing our fears, our desires, our needs, etc. Just as in any relationship, superficial talk does not develop a deeply rooted friendship. In order to develop such a relationship we must make ourselves vulnerable, we must open our hearts and share our deepest feelings and emotions. Such is prayer, prayer that is not from the heart, is an empty prayer; it is simply uttered words. Jesus teaches us how to pray in the Scriptures and He commands us to pray fervently and persistently, making our requests known to the Father. Millard J. Erickson says that “persistent prayer makes it apparent that our petition is important to us, as it is to God.” E. M. Bounds wrote a series of articles on prayer which have been compiled into a book entitled The Necessity of Prayer. In it, Mr. Bounds speaks of the relationship between faith, trust, desire, obedience, and persistence (among others) as essential to prayer and the Christian life.²
We must commit our lives to our Lord; seek Him daily via Scripture reading and prayer, prayer that involves all of our being, our soul, mind, heart and strength. Psalm 37:4-5 teaches us to “delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” If we seek Him diligently, as taught and commanded in the Scriptures, then the desires of our hearts will be the very things God desires to give us.
Having said all this, I don’t have it all figured out. My prayer life and walk with the Lord is in need of improvement. I don’t think any of us will ever reach a point where we are at the top, fully matured in spirit. I am however, seeking daily (some days more successfully than others) to improve my relationship and communication with Christ so that I can learn to be more sensitive to his voice and more faithful to whom God designed me to be.
Millard J. Erickson. Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), 431.
² Edward M. Bounds, Necessity of Prayer (Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000), http://www.ccel.org/download.html?url=/ccel/bounds/necessity.pdf (accessed October 31, 2010).