It's like talking to myself.” “It’s easier to speak than listen.” “Prayer is often a fair-weather friend.”
These are just some of the ways my church small group described their prayer lives.
Prayer is vital—no one denies that. But prayer is difficult and often presents an uncomfortable tension in the lives of many Christians. For a generation grappling with the distractions and attention-span challenges of an increasingly digital culture, how can we recover this important part of our relationship with God?
Like anything else we can’t get to in a day, many Christians feel guilty that prayer is not more a part of their spiritual lives. But the good news is that prayer is not an item that can be ticked off on a to-do list. And there is freedom in recognizing this.
Because prayer is an act of relationship, it should be an open and ongoing dialogue. First Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray continuously.” God may not be physically with us when we pray, but He is present with us, and prayer becomes our connection to Him. Whether we’re crying out in desperation or spontaneously asking for His favor, prayer is how we converse with God. It can be casual conversation or intense, emotion-filled petitioning. It can be done on our knees or in the car, shower, elevator or check-out line.
The trouble is, many people find it isn’t that simple. To wake up in the morning and say, “Today I will be in permanent conversation with God” is one thing. To do it is another.
A flourishing prayer life comes not out of dedication to rules and regulations—although structure may help—but from the overflow of a heart totally and fully in love with God. Human relationships thrive when both parties communicate with each other as motivated by love, and prayer requires the same foundation. If we are not overflowing with God’s love, our prayer lives will reflect that.
The flipside is that to be overflowing with God’s love, we need to be spending time with Him in prayer.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.