So, I was scrolling through the Book of Faces the other day and came across a post from a friend from highschool. He said, “If we couldn’t talk to God, many of us wouldn’t have any friends.” He summed up with, “Thank you God for always being there.” This struck a deep chord within me that reverberated throughout my heart and mind for days afterward.
I can’t begin to count the number of times in my life I felt like God was all that I had. The only one on my side. The only one who understood me. The only one who knew everything about me and still loved me no matter what. The funny thing about feeling like God is all you have, is the realization that grows deep in your bones that in Him you actually have all you need.
Enough said. Another successful blog in the books. (Brushes off hands, having made quick work of our time together.) LOL
All joking aside, though, I don’t know what I’d do in this life if I didn’t know about and walk in all the freedom I have to constantly connect with our Father. Besides Himself, His sacrifice on the cross to save us, prayer may be the greatest gift we’ve been given by the Lord. I find myself thanking Him for it often.
Imagine, for a moment, if we didn’t have prayer. What would that mean? We would have God, but no access to Him in this life. We would inevitably feel disconnected, unprotected, unheard, and unloved. How could we not? It’s generally accepted that the basis for any thriving human relationship is communication. Is it not?
In fact, healthy communication, or the lack thereof, may stand as the litmus test for the health of a relationship. How often are you communicating? How truthfully are you communicating? How thoroughly are you communicating? Answering these questions help us take the proverbial temperature of any relationship we’re in, including our relationship with the Lord. Prayer is simply the method by which we communicate with our Father in Heaven.
The point of my time here is not to have you hyper-focused on whether you are praying enough to be accepted by God. Let me assure you that if you belong to God, if you are united with Christ and are one spirit with Him, then you are absolutely accepted, secure, and significant to our Father. You don’t have to pray more in order to please Him, you are already pleasing to Him and so you’re free to pray.
My heart really just wants to recognize some of the benefits we’ve been given by the Lord in prayer. Countless books have been written on the subject, by people far more learned than myself, and I make no claim to add anything new to that discussion. My hope is simply to encourage you, and myself, to remember the blessing we have in prayer so that we might take hold of it sooner and avail ourselves of it more often.
I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but this life is hard…. gut-wrenchingly, breath-stealingly, mind-numbingly, bone-breakingly, emotion-brutalizingly, faith-butcheringly hard. And in the smack middle of, and sometimes in spite of, how difficult it can be, we experience how beautiful, wonderful, life-giving and hope-filling it is. Prayer gives us all the room we need to share all the things we are thinking and feeling and going through with the Lord, good, bad, or indifferent.
You can always pray, you can pray always. I constantly find myself comforted by this simple reminder. No matter what happens, or when I find myself in need, I remember this refrain and am redirected to go to the Lord with it. The same words are found in both parts, but the two different meanings give us a fuller appreciation of the gift prayer is for us in this life.
You can always pray. As a discipler and encourager by trade, I spend my days “doing life” with real people living real lives. I don’t merely get Sunday morning dressed up and put together relationships, but rather all-access, cage match, backstage passes to the celestial highs and bitterest lows that make up our very human existence.
Now, I wouldn’t change a thing. I embrace and inhabit the messy places in mine and other people’s lives. That’s where the good things happen, where we, like Thoreau said, “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” It’s in these trenches that we fight for all that is good, and right, and true and against all that is evil, and false, and unjust in this world and in ourselves.
Oftentimes, in the midst of the trials and hardships of this life, we feel like there’s little worthwhile that we can do. When someone we know is fighting addiction, or a loved one is gravely ill, when a good friend is going through the pain of infertility or the loss of a child… It's in these times, when we want to take away their fear and shield them from their suffering, that we can feel the most helpless, the most hopeless.
It’s in these times, we must remember that, in fact, there is something we can do. We can always pray! That is not just SOMETHING we can do, it’s EVERYTHING. And whether we actually believe that depends completely on what we believe about prayer and the God we are praying to. How many times have we treated prayer like it was the last resort? Having done all else, there’s nothing left to do now but pray. Or, I wish I could do more to help, but I can at least pray for you.
Prayer is never the least we can do in this life. Asking the God of all the universe to move on behalf of His people, in His world, and for the glory of His own name, should be considered by us as the very most we can do. The best I can ever hope to do about anything is to involve the limitless, all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere-present God in it. Any part of me that does not truly believe this needs to be exposed and confronted with the Truth of the Word of God.
We have to not only see prayer as the most effective stance we can take, but also as our first priority. Before we make a plan, before we make a move, we must learn to go to the Lord and ask Him to have His say and to make a way. If I truly believe that He is God and can do all the things, why wouldn’t I go to Him immediately with everything?! Especially when He tells me to.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.”
1 Chronicles 16:11
“Search for the LORD and for His strength; continually seek Him.”
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.”
“One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.”
The God who hears us and moves on our behalf has both invited and directed us to pray. When everything is going right, we can always pray. When nothing is going right, we can always pray. No matter what comes your way, you can always pray.
“Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”
You can always pray, you can pray always. You can be praying all the time. If prayer is simply conversation with God, the God who knows our hearts and minds, then we can spend all of our waking timetalking to Him. I lay on you no heavy weight of expectation here. God will not be angry or disappointed with you if you’re not laboring in prayer every minute of everyday.
Prayer is not a have to do, prayer is a get to do. Prayer is for our benefit and for our good. We CAN pray always. Think about that...by the Spirit living in you, you have complete and constant access to your Father in prayer. We are never alone, or abandoned, or forgotten, or too much for Him.
The biggest hurdle in learning to pray always is retraining our minds to recognize our continuous togetherness with God. I am always with the Lord and He is always with me because of His Spirit living within me. This is the abiding life that Christ mentions in John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
More than a handful of years ago, my prayer life was revolutionized after reading Brother Lawrence’s, The Practice of the Presence of God. This was really the first time in my christian life that I was able to see prayer as something other than a chore to be finished, a daily box to be checked, or an expectation to be met.
I began to realize that God, like the Good Father He is, had given me, his beloved child, unlimited access to Him. I could be with Him as much as I wanted to be. I didn’t have to check-in so that He could keep tabs on me to make sure I wasn’t making trouble. I could invite Him into every thought, every conversation, every musing, or meditation, and begin to live in the fullness of His Life. I could live in the fruitfulness of His Life in me.
I make no claims to having perfectly walked this out since that time. Freedom does not equal perfection. The degree to which I am communicating with, and yielding to the leading of His Spirit in my life, will determine how well I walk and how good the fruit produced in my life will be.
You can pray always. Knowing that we can walk with the Lord at all times and through everything should be a great comfort to us. Because of what Christ has done for us, we are accepted, secure, and significant to God. The more time we spend walking and talking with Him, the more time we spend practicing being in His Presence, the more we will feel this Truth resonate in our being. I hope that you can hear Him calling to you, inviting you to come often, and to remain always with Him and in Him.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
1 John 4:13
“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
You can always pray, you can pray always. This is not expected of you, this is God’s gift being extended to you. You are free to always pray, you are free to pray always. My prayer is that you will lay hold of the freedom you have been given in Christ to connect with Him, to walk with Him, to commune with Him, today and every day to come. I guarantee you will be better for it and your life more full and rich than you could’ve possibly ever imagined.
“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance.”