We have a little "in house" dialogue that always follows the question, "Shall we pray about that?"
And, without fail, someone will reply, "Has it come to that??"
It's a funny way of reminding ourselves that prayer is often our last resort when we have exhausted all our other options.
I'm reading a number of books on prayer right now in preparation to teach a class on prayer, but more than that and a bit selfishly, I'm reading them for me! Prayer has always been an enigma for me, difficult to do, hard to understand and frustrating.
Often, as a pastor, I would take time to pray in the church when no one was there. I would begin on my knees at the front of the church in prayer and then discover, to my surprise, that I had fallen asleep with carpet impressions on my forehead. My intentions were good, but I couldn't stay with it.
After going to the house on one of these days my wife asked, "You been praying again?" It was evident....not because of a heavenly glow, but because of carpet impressions on my face.
So, how do we encounter this wonderful invisible amazing God and communicate with him? It's called prayer, but it's probably the hardest part of any believer's life. It challenges our need for imput, because often he is silent. It frustrates our desire for answers, because he makes us wait. It makes us question his love, because he doesn't seem to meet the needs we think we have.
Prayer is, without a doubt, my most difficult conquest.
I think, at some point in my life, when I finally begin to feel I'm doing it well, it will be at the very end of my journey....but I'm working on it. I'm trying....I want to really discover and experience what this thing called prayer is all about.
It begins with "ask." An invitation to approach the creator and ask. In fact, he's the one who invited us to this encounter. Jesus said, "Ask...!" Ask what? Anything, but it's not the getting that is the goal, it's the dependence...a dependence on God for the very essence of life.
Ask. It means for me I must admit I have a need, admit I can't do it myself, admit it's bigger than I am and ask for help. It's humbling. Like a child I come to Father and ask for his help. Jesus began this invitation with that word because there are some things we have to deal with,
1. I can't do this myself. I need help.
2. I need help from someone bigger than me. My needs and problems are more than I can conquer.
3. I need to admit that the one who made me is the only one who can help me.
4. and, when I come, when I ask, like a child I'm putting myself in his care, believing he will answer.
Ask. It's the foundation of prayer. It's the starting point. Some will say we have to worship first....praise, adoration, etc., but asking is worship! It's bowing all of me to someone higher than I and saying very simply, "help."