Doing What Comes Naturally

by Michael J. Klassen

Some things just aren’t natural. Like this painting of seven dogs playing poker. Growing up, I used to see copies of this hanging in people’s basements all the time. What’s up with that?

Or those HUGE “gage” earrings people wear in their noses and ears. Someday when they’ve convalescing in a nursing home, how are they going to explain the sagging holes in their nose and ears to their grandchildren?

It’s just not natural.

You Might Be Surprised At What Comes Naturally

So what comes naturally?

Prayer.

Stick with me here, because at this point, many of you are about to click somewhere else on the Internet cosmos. But before you do, let me explain…

Few words evoke strong feelings of guilt more than “prayer.” Why? It’s obvious–most people don’t think they pray enough. And perhaps that’s true. But perhaps our feelings of guilt result from a faulty definition of prayer.

The other day, I was working on a writing project for a publisher. I’m contributing 92 short devotions on prayer, which is a bit daunting. When I began, I asked myself, Do I even know 92 things about prayer?

So I decided to think through my theology of prayer. After writing two books on the topic, I realized two weeks ago that I had never determined what I really believe about it. So here’s what I discovered…

Our first example of humanity communicating with God begins with Adam and Eve. Can’t get any earlier than that.

From the outset, Adam and Eve experienced the kind of relationship with their Creator that few people enjoy today. They talked with God. Actually, their communication was little more than a conversation. In their natural state, they communed with God.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit abide with each other in a relationship of perfect love and unhindered communication. No barriers exist between them. And, we’re created in their image.

So, we were created for relationship—with God and with each other. That’s why prayer comes most naturally for us. But for me, the Scripture passage that best illustrates prayer is Genesis 3:8:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Doing What Comes Naturally: A Walk In The Garden

Ignore the part where Adam and Eve are hiding and look at the picture we’re presented of God in his relationship with them. He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day and he was looking for them to join him.

A walk with God in the garden. I’m sure you’ve gone on walks like that. Perhaps it resembled more of a hike. Walks like that are very casual and reflective, interspersed with brief—and sometimes long—periods of silence. A walk through the garden isn’t dominated by requests. Sure, requests surface here or there, but the tone of the walk takes the form of conversation.

The minute we define prayer as a block of time, we’ve immediately lost the nature of true prayer. I admit that my prayer in terms of blocks of time are few and far between. But if we define prayer as a walk in the garden interspersed by brief—and sometimes long—periods of silence, then I must say that I pray much more than I realize.

I bet you do, too.

Looking through Scripture, we see exhortations to pray at specific periods. But we also read that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If we understand this verse through the definition of prayer as a block of time, we’re all living in sin.

But what if we invited God on a walk and engaged in a conversation with him interspersed by brief—and sometimes long—periods of silence? That’s the life of prayer that God desires with each one of us.

An Example Of What Comes Naturally

Here’s what it looks like in my life. When I run in the morning, I listen to music. As my thoughts drift here or there, I invite God into my thoughts. When the sun rises, I compliment God on his beautiful artwork. If a random thought enters my head, I pray for it. But then I might think about the impending American football strike, and I say nothing to God. Or, a cool 70s rock song might play, and I’ll enjoy the music while I drift back 35 years. Later, when I take a shower, as I think about my day, I invite him into my schedule. You get the idea. By some definitions, it doesn’t qualify under the traditional definition of prayer, but by other definitions, it does.

Let me also admit that some days, I don’t invite God into my schedule—and I’m a pastor. So it’s something I’m still working on.

But looking at prayer as a walk with God in the garden, it’s something all of us can do. Without guilt.

Join the conversation

  1. What does prayer look like in your life?
  2. What prevents you from enjoying unhindered communication with God?
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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Doing What Comes Naturally

  1. Georgie-ann

    Good morning!,…with the emphasis on good!,…busy a.m. on tap,…but sometimes I wonder if some of those so-called “my” thoughts aren’t really some of God’s thoughts that He is putting in me!

    I might think that “I just noticed something great,” but maybe it was God gently calling my attention to something(s) that I might otherwise have missed! — (dreaming as usual) — or, maybe He was in the dreaming!,…who really knows?

    (-:

  2. The older I get, the more I believe that God is constantly speaking to me–and usually I miss it or take credit for it.

    Enjoy your busy morning, Georgie-ann.

  3. carri

    It’weird but prayer for me as a small child came so naturally (it was a necessity if I were going to survive) and then I became a believer in highschool and either I or what I learned about becoming a stronger christian turned it into a chore or a program and for years I struggled with prayer. Now that I’m in a desert time with God it again is coming naturally as it did when I was young. It’s pretty much the only spiritual discipline I’m doing right now but yet it’s more honest and meaningful than it’s ever been if that makes sense. Thanks for great post about prayer Mike!

  4. Georgie-ann

    …and I’m older than you, — (soon to be ??, ouch!) — so just imagine how sublimely confusing it can get!,…it’s a good thing God also has a sense of humor!

    (-:

    …busy morning accomplished successfully,…& now for some rest!

    *(??),… should I tell?,…a woman is never supposed to tell her age,…at least my grandmother never did!

    • Georgie-ann

      Acts 17: 24-29 (excerpted & caps added)

      24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, HE HIMSELF GIVES EVERYONE LIFE AND BREATH AND EVERYTHING ELSE. … 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, THOUGH HE IS NOT FAR FROM ANY ONE OF US. 28 ‘FOR IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

      29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.” …

  5. Georgie-ann

    cont.: … sounds like a pretty “touchable God,” a God looking to befriend us in personal fellowship!,…certainly not abstract and distant, expecting tokens of fearful appeasement to abate wrathful and unpredictable retributions,…it sounds like His Life flows through everything that “is.”

    Part of accepting God’s Love personally involves finding His Life “in me, as me,” which is the very last thing satan wants us to discover. The fallen one’s strategy has been to separate us from God’s Love from the beginning, leaving us as PTSD victims of his lies and abuse, while blaming the anger all on God. This implied “separation” is more suggestion and illusion than true.

    Among us, there are scientists who think that they are “big” — (pride themselves inordinately) — because they have added names and descriptions to what already is and has been and has existed quite well without any of their labels. But all these things have their origins and being in God.

    Why does this leave me feeling joyful? Perhaps because it’s “normal”/”natural,” as Michael is saying.

  6. Georgie-ann

    I am going to add a little disclaimer here, having just now come across, (on-line), the disgruntled comments of a seeming “expert” in Christian theological terminology.

    I AGREE that it IS very possible to “miss God” in lots of ways. One can be too “loosey-goosey,” inclusive and what-not,…and one can actually be overly constrained and caught up in keeping God in a straight-jacket of man’s making.

    Personally, I DO take the Bible seriously, and the parameters and perimeters laid out within. We have all kinds of modern spiritual mixes available to us these days, and it is certainly important to study, pray, and discern God’s will personally in these matters.

    I have never considered myself to be any kind of expert on how God will ultimately deal with all these people and things — after all, HE is God, not me — and so I usually do not even try to “go there,” preferring just to “light my own candle.”

    Psalm 44: 20, 21

    20 “If we had forgotten the name of our God
    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
    21 “would not God have discovered it,
    since HE KNOWS THE SECRETS OF THE HEART?”

    1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but THE LORD LOOKS ON THE HEART.”

    Titus 1:15 “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”

    Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!”

    Acts 15:7-9

    7 “… after there had been a long debate, Peter got up and said

    8 ” ‘… God, Who is acquainted with and understands the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit as He also did to us;

    9 “And He made no difference between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith.’ ”

    “God is a very big God,” (Zorba, the Greek),…and He cannot be fooled. When I see the many inconsistencies in today’s theological presentations, I am at least happy that God is “in the conversation” and on people’s minds. How He will be able to use these discussions to speak to their hearts, and how they will respond is something we should pray earnestly about.

    “One picture is worth a thousand words.” I imagine that a true “grace moment” with God in one’s heart must have a similar effect.

  7. Pingback: Chillin’ With The Almighty | The Neighborhood Café

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