Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”… So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion…”
Genesis 1:26a, 27-28a
Howard Hendricks, my beloved seminary professor, frequently talked with us about the importance of prayer. He would often caution: “If you are like me, one area of your spiritual life that is constantly shot down in flames is your prayer life.” “Why is that?” Hendricks would ask. Quick came his answer, “It’s because the Evil One doesn’t mess around on the periphery! He always goes straight for your jugular, that which is most vital for you: your prayer.” My professor believed that prayer is as essential to our spiritual health as taking the next breath is to our bodies.
I remember one day when a fellow student went to “Prof Hendricks” for help with prayer. “Dr. Hendricks,” the student said, “I really am struggling with prayer. Can you help me?” True to form, Dr. Hendricks gave the student an assignment: “I want you to go home and pray for five minutes without asking God for one thing. It could revolutionize your prayer life, just being with God without asking.”
People do often think of prayer simply as a means of getting something from God. In time they come to see that prayer is really about intimacy with the God of heaven and earth. God created us in His image, according to His likeness because He wants intimate relationship with us.
The Bible tells us “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and love by definition implies intimate relationship. In an intimate relationship with God we are then seeking, not merely to get something from God, but to be with Him. John Vianney was a French parish priest esteemed for his spiritual counsel and guidance in prayer. He once asked an old peasant farmer what he was doing when late every afternoon he came into the church and sat for awhile. The old man replied: “I look at the Good God and the Good God looks at me.” (Christian Spirituality, Lawrence Cunningham and Keith Egan) That is communion with God! That is prayer!
Timothy Keller writes in his book Prayer: “We can see why a triune God would call us to converse with him, to know and relate to Him. It is because he wants to share the joy he has. Prayer is our way of entering into the happiness of God himself.”
God created you in His image and passionately desires intimacy with you. Your wanting to pray and to learn about prayer is His presence moving about in you. He wants to share His joy with you!
- Follow my professor’s advice and take the next few moments to talk with God; simply be with Him without asking for anything.
- This next week look for an opportunity to talk with someone about prayer as communion, as simply being with God.
“Why do we pray? Out of a sense of need, yes. But this need goes far beyond simply getting help in our troubles, or the satisfaction of our desires. Prayer is the fulfillment of a primal need, the need to be in relationship with God.”
Kenneth Swanson: Uncommon Prayer