What is prayer for?

“A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening” (Søren Kierkegaard).

So what is prayer for? Is it for answers? Is it for quick fixes in a crisis?

What if prayer is something more? My hunch is it’s not about getting answers or about solving problems. My hunch is there’s something much deeper, even soul-changing, that happens when God captures our sole attention, even for brief moments at a time.

If my interactions with my wife Jackie were nothing more than short bursts of things I want her to do for me, “…okay, bye,” we wouldn’t have much of a relationship. Is it any different with God when that’s what our prayers look like?

What if prayer is about creating welcoming space inside you for God? What if that 5 or 10 minutes of being quiet at the beginning of the day is like setting the table before a meal, and makes you more tuned in to see God when he shows up later in the day?

The book of Psalms teaches us to pray because each of those poem-prayers puts God front and center. Sure, they’re also full of requests and complaints and God-smash-my-enemies but those are always peripheral to the nature, character, and presence of God–his awesome loveliness, powerful strength, and perfect justice. The psalms are prayers for, to, and about God.

What if prayer is for nothing but God? 100% for, to, about God, nothing more or less? How different would your prayers look if God was the thesis statement of them instead of you?

How different would you be?


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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