“When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent. 11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.” – Exodus 33:9-11
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” – Matthew 6:7-8
Richard Foster, in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, starts with the recognition that prayer is something we often both long for and have a reluctance toward.
We might think we have to have just the right words. Or that we have to be in a good place spiritually or emotionally to start. As if God only hears our prayers when we’re calm and tranquil and have been nice to everyone over the past day or so… Or that our needs and thoughts are too petty/unworthy/small for God.
Anything large enough for a wish to light upon, is large enough to hang a prayer upon. – George MacDonald: Unspoken Sermons
The most important thing about prayer is simply to remember that God’s desire is to hear from us. It isn’t about our worthiness, eloquence, or technique. It is about showing up not in our competence but simply responding to the gracious and loving invitation of God into prayer, into connection.
So the invitation, as we start this week focused on prayer (a drop in the ocean of what we could say) – is simply to start wherever you are. God always invites us to come as we are, not as we pretend to be. God meets us in our brokenness as readily as where we feel we are strong – perhaps especially so, because when we take off our masks and pretending and get real, then God is able to get real back with us.
Sometimes, that’s the scary bit – what would God say if God knew the real me? The real thoughts and mixed motives, how easily we get distracted and discouraged?
To that – I’d simply say; look to Jesus. Jesus who welcomed the sinners as well as the folks who saw themselves as saints. Salvation goes deeper than escaping hell; salvation (hear the healing word ‘salve’ in there?) is about God taking us where we are and healing and restoring us, drawing us ever deeper into what life is meant to be. Again and again scripture tells us God welcomes the humble prayer, is quick to forgive, desires to bless.
And yes, getting real in prayer opens us up to challenging things. God will show us things in our lives that need attention. Reality can be scary – but prayer invites us to remember that we face it in the hands of a God who is both holy and good. Prayer invites us to remember we don’t need to face this life alone and on our own strength.
If you have stories, practices, or resources you’ve found helpful in your prayer life, we’d love to hear from you and share them this week as we focus on prayer. Email us at: email@example.com.