I have been reading and reflecting a lot about prayer recently. Reading stuff online, reading books and listening to sermons etc. Something has really struck me about a great deal of this material about prayer.
Most of it seems focused on results.
How to pray, what to pray, where to pray, when to pray, to get results, to see your prayers answered.
A great deal of what I heard about prayer was helpful (some of it was not) and yet I couldn’t help thinking that it didn’t really reflect Jesus’ teaching about prayer.
When it comes to prayer Jesus seems more focused on relationship than results.
When He teaches about prayer, He focuses our attention primarily not on the What, How, Where and When of prayer but the WHO. Who we pray to for Jesus is what is really important in prayer. Remember how He starts His model prayer when He is teaching us to pray? OUR FATHER.
I think when we focus our main attention on the how, what, where, when of prayer we are in danger of reducing prayer to either being a mechanical impersonal process, do that and this will happen or a magic spell. In the Harry Potter films, Harry and his friends have to learn how to say the right words and flick their wands in the right way to cast a spell effectively. Listening to some of the stuff on prayer online I felt that I was at a vaguely Christian version of Hogwarts. Say the right word, use the right technique and hey presto, God answers with the right results.
Prayer is fundamentally about building our relationship with God, and so let’s not get too hung up on what words to use, how often to pray and for how long. Instead let’s make prayer about coming to Our Father, the one who loves us and desires the best for us and sharing our hearts with Him and allowing Him to share His heart with us.