One of the most difficult things in life to do is to communicate. I suppose, like me, there are many people who talk a lot … but that is not necessary communication. The art of communication is not just being heard, but being listened to. The school teacher might say something like … “you hear me speaking but do you hear what I’m saying?” The wife might say to her husband … “You hear me but do you hear me?”
Hearing, however, is not always the fault of the “hearer” but the speaker, for at times we speak words and sentences and concepts that we understand, but do our hearers? To this end then there are certain tools required when speaking so that the hearer understands our conversation because it is intelligible, interesting and believable.
Do you find communicating with God easy? I’m not speaking about blabbering or vain repetition … neither am I speaking about talking and talking and confusing yourself. I’m asking whether you find it easy or difficult to communicate with God in an intelligible, sensible manner. If you and I are totally honest, we will have to admit that far too often our communication with God is lacking. Look at the following verse:
Jas 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
It’s almost as if interpersonal conflicts affect prayer life. The problems in verse 1 and most of verse 2 are because … “You do not have, because you do not ask God” and when we do we come with the “wrong motives”! I would like to spend two days looking at, the environment of prayer and then, the revival of prayer … both to help you and me in our prayer lives. (When a preacher preachers a sermon the message is firstly for himself–otherwise he is a hypocrite. The same is true with a Daily Note!) It might be helpful to read Matthew 6:5-15 … but for this note look at Matthew 6:6.
Mat 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Prayer as a Fact
When Jesus says … “but when you pray”, He is saying you do pray. Prayer is a fact for all His people. We do communicate with Him (God). It’s like we breathe … we can’t stop. It’s natural. The lungs need oxygen. So we pray. It’s the most natural spiritual exercise for any believer. We might not know exactly how to pray. We might get it wrong at times (perhaps most times) … but we pray. Prayer is a fact of our life in Christ!
In a general way we may pray anywhere and anytime. Have you stood behind a person in a check out queue? Do you look at their hair, their shoes or anything in between? Or do you pray for them? It’s like driving … you pray before a journey, during a journey and after a journey. Some believers pray throughout the day about a variety of matters … but when referring to the place of prayer I mean a specific place, at a specific time for specific prayer.
Jesus says, “go into your room”. This is not necessary your bedroom. It could be your study, the garden, the washroom or tool shed. Like you would cook in the kitchen because the stove, food cupboard, pots and pans, crockery and cutlery are there … so the room or place you pray in will be the place where you keep your prayer tools. It’s a dedicated place … a type of prayer room.
Prayer in Privacy
When you have a specific place for specific prayer, you need privacy. Jesus says … “close the door”. The reason for this is that you don’t want or need distractions. As rude as it is when people interrupt our conversation, so it is when “things” disrupt our prayer life. If you have your cell phone with you, switch it off or put it on silent. If people want to contact you they could leave a message or call back later. The fact that the door is closed means the rest of the household know you are praying and will leave you alone. This is God time.
Prayer to a Person
Prayer is not meaningless mumbo jumbo. Prayer is not a ritual to stimulate “quietness”. Prayer is communicating with Almighty God, your Heavenly Father. Jesus said … “pray to your Father, who is unseen.” You are praying to a known Person, not a hope or a wish someone hears or is there. Your Father is known to you–otherwise He would not be your Father.
As I have mentioned before, God to me is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He is the one, true, living, eternal God who is Creator, Sustainer and Saviour. He made Himself known through His Creation, His Word and especially through Calvary as it is applied by the Holy Spirit to the believing heart. It is natural then that as His child you enter your room in private to communicate with His Divine Majesty who is known to you through the New Birth.
Often we pray and feel our prayers are not heard. Jesus says … “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Surely when our communication is intimate, intelligent and selfless, God not only hears, but responds. The word “reward” means “answer” or “provide”. This is a wonderful promise. See the little word “will”? It means it is as good as done! The prayer environment is vital for real communication in prayer … to God, your Father.
Let’s do a quick spiritual exercise by asking, “What is my private communication with God like right now? What can I do to improve it?”
Dear God, the disciples asked You, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Lord, we need You to teach us and help us in prayer, for far too often our prayers are so self-centered. Teach us to pray. Amen.