There is a paradox to prayer. It is all about the gift of God, and God praying in us, but it also has to be an act of human will. God calls out to every human heart and longs to make a home in every human heart. But God waits for us to respond. When we do, it is God’s delight to come to us and sing his song within us. Our voice – however faint and unsure of the tune – is joined to the song of the Spirit.
My own working definition of prayer is this: Prayer is the lover coming into the presence of the beloved and saying, “I love you.”
This is an entirely different way of thinking about prayer. It is not about what we “put in” or “get out”, but focuses entirely on God.
God is the great lover. We are God’s beloved. God is constantly coming into our presence to say that he loves bus. Most of the time, we probably won’t be aware of this.
But that doesn’t mean God isn’t there. We aren’t usually aware of the air we breathe. But we keep on breathing.
Prayer is the most natural thing in the world. It has been said that prayer is as natural as a flower opening its petals to the sun.
But it can also be the hardest.
There will be dark and difficult times when prayer feels impossible. It requires discipline as well as desire. Because it is relationship, it is about letting go and allowing someone else to be at the centre of your life.
I am not a Christian because I know lots of things about God, but because I know God. This relationship, which God has initiated through his love, is one we enter freely. God will never force his way into our lives. But the great paradox of this relationship is that when we put Jesus at the centre of our life, he puts us at the centre of his.
Like all relationships, it needs to be worked at. And it is through prayer that our relationship with God is nurtured and sustained.