God Is Conversing
It’s easy to forget that when we begin praying, we’re joining the sacred conversation, not beginning it.
It can be pretty awkward at times, those moments when you walk into a room with a small group of people there having an intense conversation. There’s always that brief moment where you get to decide (often by reading the facial expressions of said people) whether you’re brave enough to dive on in with them or whether you’ll make a polite excuse to quickly exit.
I feel Iike over the years I’ve been a repeat offender at creating these conversations. I’m an introvert and I love D&M’s so there’s been more than one social occasion when some innocent civilian has waltzed into a group conversation hoping for a light chat about the weather, only to discover I’m there lovingly prying someone’s soul open or going deep on the meaning of life.
Well if we can imagine for a second that a conversation is being held in a warm kitchen and it’s riveting, satisfying and intriguing, and that the people sitting there talking aren’t just average joe’s but the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then we may just be onto something when it comes to communing with God.
God Is Always Praying
Do you ever think about that? For starters God is community - three in one - so when he speaks/communes with himself he is essentially praying, as we define it. What do you think of when you imagine God talking to himself? What do you think he’s talking about and how? Do you imagine him blandly talking theological shop or sharing funny stories of humanity and their crazy endeavours?
It’s a crazy thought eh? Your answer probably speaks a lot to your idea of who God is as a Person and what he loves.
One thing we do know is that Jesus sits with God and intercedes for us. Us being his brothers and sisters and the world, that is. Before you and I wake in the morning for our first coffee of the day Jesus is seeking God’s face for us that we’d grow strong in love and faithfulness. That we’d grow just like him.
He and his Father are constantly addressing the world and her needs in real time. Not in some vague or general way, but in a way applicable to the here and now of our social, economic, political and environmental needs. And then, beyond the wider sense of creation, somehow, God is praying for and getting among each and every one of our individual joys and lows.
God is always praying.
Walk Into The Room
That changes the way I see prayer completely. From the vantage point of God’s ceaseless prayer and communion, prayer begins to feel far more like joining a conversation than starting one, and joining a conversation takes me out of the drivers seat and places me in the ever-watchful and interested front passenger seat right beside him.
If that’s the state of God, then it couldn’t harm me to begin my prayer with “God, what’s on your heart today” or, “Father, what would you like to talk about”. It’s rather counter-intuitive to a consumer minded culture but letting God steer our spirit toward what’s on his heart fashions us into a deeply prophetic people.
It makes us people who pray with God, rather than just to him.
The balance here is that there are times when we need to walk into a room of people and change the conversation, we’re not all passive actors in the divine reality. But something tells me we’re far more in danger of only beginning the conversation in prayer as a culture than we are at joining it.
Walking into the room looks to me like opening the communication line between God and I and salting it with a healthy dose of waiting for a response. At least to check and see if God set’s me off on a different path than my soul initially thought important before moving on and at the most to have my mind totally lifted up out of it’s smallness and into the much more vast agenda of God.
More often than not, asking God first has led me into far greater personal revelation and wisdom than any topic I would started with.
Jump Into The River.
Another way of looking at it is to see prayer as the difference between diving into a lake or a river.
A lake is a still body of water. It doesn’t carry you anywhere nor determine your path. In a lake you’re free to determine your own way through with all the brute strength and cardio storage you can muster. In a lake you can dive, swim or play but once you’re over your head if you don’t flex those arm muscles and get moving you’ll sink. Lakes require hard work.
A river, by contrast, can have a strong current. It’s always leading to a larger body of water and when you dive in you can choose to let the strength of that flow carry you toward it. Swimming in a river with a current like that is a lot more freeing because your small effort is multiplied exponentially by the strength of it’s current. When there’s heavy rain so too is the current. In the dryer seasons the current is more smooth and subtle.
Prayer, as I imgine it is often a dance between both, but it seems to me like the more grace-full prayer is the latter. Learning to dive into the conversation where God is already moving and using the little comparative strength we have to articulate and multiply that prayer rather than swim up current with our own agenda.
Whichever way you look at it, be it entering God’s dinner table conversation or diving into the slipstream of his present heart-agenda, prayer is an exciting invitation to follow. A way of being lifted out of ourselves to truly know God and to be free from the hard work of drumming up all the passion we don’t have when it’s hard to pray at all.