A Portrait of Prayer

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defence. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all”—Oswald Chambers

Prayer is answering God. It’s not simply God answering us.

Prayer is the anti-thesis of passivity.

It’s waking up the soul when it doesn’t want to get out of bed because it’s cold outside and it’s comfortable under the covers.

It’s graciously taking a seat at the table He has prepared for us and returning it with the courtesy of being good company.

It’s being in the company of a close friend who knows what you’re thinking just by looking at you, which makes it very difficult when you’re trying very hard to lie to yourself.

It’s standing at the edge of the ocean, looking into the distant horizon—stunned into silence by converging feelings of awe, gratitude and helplessness—marvelling at a majestic display of boundless beauty and fearsome power.

It’s an evening with a charming person whose disarming interest in you, gives you the courage to be yourself with them and the desire to give yourself to them.

It’s a late-night phone conversation with a love interest—so vulnerable, open and honest—it peels the layers of lies away from your soul and makes you want to tell the truth every time you speak to them.

It’s a pulitzer-prize winning author spending the evening of his victory with the ones he loves most dearly—over food and drink and laughter.

It’s a philosophical conversation with a scholar who challenges your paradigms, questions your assumptions, reveals your blind spots and urges you to work harder in building your framework of truth.

It’s a passionate executive making an appeal to a discerning CEO, pleading for resources to be invested into a new venture that will turn a profit for the company.

It’s an articulate lawyer making his case to a reliable judge, asking for justice to be served because the future of a city is at stake.

It’s a wounded soldier desperately calling for more troops to be sent where the fighting is fiercest, because the enemy is winning and lives are at stake

It’s a child running to its most cherished care-giver when the loss of a treasured toy has driven him to inconsolable tears.

It’s an athlete returning to the gym for a workout, even when he doesn’t feel like it—because he knows if he misses out, it’s going to cost him something he doesn’t want to lose; because she knows if she perseveres, it’s going to give her a reward nothing else can pretend to give her.

It’s a dog whimpering in fear because the firecrackers are too loud and there’s nothing it can do but cry for help and hope that the madness will end.

It’s the vulnerable moment of giving away your gold and waiting for an expert to give his verdict on the weight of its worth.

It’s where your heart’s deepest longings are drawn out of their shell—with time, patience and stillness—so they begin to feel they have an audience that is eager to listen without judgment.

When it works up the courage to speak, it will whisper what it really wants. Then if you have the courage to listen, you can take what it brings and test its true colours in the light of a better Heart.

Prayer is where you receive insight, instruction and incentive. It’s where you see things differently, know things differently and find good reason to do things differently.

It’s where your heart and mind are still, but not silent; quiet, but not without words. It is not nothingness, emptiness or a void.

It’s a meeting place. And where two souls meet, they may be without words but they are not without eyes for each other.

They are not without thoughts, feelings and longings—about, towards and for each other. They are simply present to each other because there are some things for which words are not enough.

Prayer is returning an invitation. It’s accepting a duty and answering a call. But it often comes at the cost of refusing other invitations and rejecting lesser calls.

As all good things do.

It is difficult but rewarding and costly but precious.

As all good things are.

Prayer is anything but religious and nothing short of necessary. It’s possibly one of the most important things we can do in our lives.


Image Credit: Mattias Karlsson

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