A note on intimate prayer

Recently God has given me additional gifts in prayer -- ways of relating to him that are more intimate and personal than what I have known before. They center around being quiet and receiving from God in a place of trust and peace.

Being quiet with God takes time, and for the last week or two, I have not been devoting myself to it with any consistency. However, this morning I set aside a chunk of time just for meeting with God. In these prayer times, sometimes God speaks to me and some times he doesn't. This morning he did. As soon as I settled in, God communicated to my soul is that when we experience gifts in prayer, they are personal invitations given in love. My neglect of being quiet with God was a neglect of God himself, not a neglect of using a particular form of prayer.

The problem is that I had started viewing these prayer gifts as tools that I now possess. I thought, "I can pray like this now. But if I don't have time, it's okay. I'll come back to it later. Besides, it's my prayer life. I'll work on it at my own pace." See the assumption at work here? Prayer is mine to possess and use like a tool. (Incidentally, notice how many times you hear prayer talked about like it's a tool at our disposal. This is a common misperception.)

No, prayer is not mine, and it is not a tool. It is ours -- it is shared between me and God. If God begins to give himself to me in prayer in a different way, my response is to pursue him there, not to think that I have another prayer tool in my toolbox to use as I see fit.

Prayer is not ours to possess, use, or mechanize. It is interpersonal, and God's invitations in prayer are to be handled with intimate sensitivity, just as we would handle an invitation from a lover.


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