by Brooke Fossell
One of the most amazing things about being a Christian is the reality that the Creator of the universe desires a personal relationship with each of us. Communication is necessary for any relationship to grow and prosper and, sadly, prayer is vastly underutilized. As a new Christian, I viewed prayer as talking TO God, rather than talking WITH God. As you can imagine, my prayers were very one-sided!
Eventually, God brought my attention to the Psalms. I noticed that the psalmists often started their prayers being upset or scared, then came to a sense of joy and peace. I wondered why my prayers didn’t cause a similar progression in my spirit. When I began asking God to show me, my attention was drawn to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17-19a:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (NIV)
I found that as I invited God to show me his character as described in this passage (and many others), I spent more time in a listening posture and less time talking to God. As I grew to understand God’s character according to Scripture, I didn’t worry as much about what other people thought of me. I worried a lot less, period. I received and was emboldened by His love for me, accepting His invitation to do and try new things. I stepped out of my comfort zone to find him there with me.
Around this time of discovery, I also found Paul’s pithy advice, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Awareness of God’s presence moment by moment in my day greatly increased my hunger for more of God. I experienced the truth that what we stay focused on, grows. Truly, when we understand prayer as being essential in pursuing a relationship with God, we can’t help but grow and change.