by Michael J. Klassen
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?
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
- What does prayer look like in your life?
- What prevents you from enjoying unhindered communication with God?