I was finishing up with some work at my desk one recent Friday afternoon when my phone rang. I checked the caller ID to see who was calling, and I let out a surprised squeal. I was excited to see the name of an old friend displayed on the screen, and I picked up right away.
It had probably been about a year since we had talked voice-to-voice, and we were long overdue for a good conversation. We quickly moved from small talk and general greetings to deep, heartfelt conversation. It was remarkable that even though it had been months since we had talked we could still communicate on a meaningful level. In all actuality, our interaction should have been marked with awkward pauses and surface level chatter, but that wasn’t the case. We picked up with conversation as if we had never stopped interacting. Perhaps it was because we follow each other on Facebook and have kept ourselves updated with news, but it was still remarkable that we were able to communicate with such ease.
As we concluded our conversation, I found myself thinking about relationship. My pastor had recently preached a sermon on prayer, and it wasn’t hard to consider the most valuable relationship of all— that of me and my Savior I have to admit that I am not one who excels in my prayer life. I often use my busy lifestyle as an excuse to keep pushing through my day, never stopping to spend quiet time in His presence. But when I do take the time, often at the end of a hectic day, I find an incredible sense of intimacy.
Much like my interaction with my friend over the phone, I find that I can resume communication with Jesus as if we had never been apart. True, He never leaves me, but I find that I often walk away to some degree. I know I can call on Him at any time, but I forget just how accessible He is to me. I also seem to neglect our closeness when I think that praying should be some kind of formality.
If we’ve being honest, we’ve all been there. In my case, I’m often getting ready to pray at Bible Study or with the worship team before a service. I ask if anyone would be willing to pray out loud, and often I get the same response: “You can pray, Cassie.” So I start to pray out loud, ever so conscious of what I am saying. Sometimes I stumble over my words and wonder how everyone in the room must perceive my jumbled prayers. Let’s face it; not many people like to pray out loud, so I’ve become accustomed to filling in the words, so to speak. Its uncomfortable, and I sometimes just wish someone else would take the initiative.
But then I think of the incredible privilege I have in coming before my Savior, and I realize that I shouldn’t be focused on the formality of corporate prayer. I should be honored to pray aloud and to communicate my love to Him. I shouldn’t worry about what others think. I should make it my goal to participate in heartfelt conversation with Him as if were sitting face-to-face in the same room.
My thoughts about prayer and communication fully came into focus a few nights later when I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned as my mind and heart battled for resolution. Finally, I got up and went into my living room. I curled up in my comfy recliner and tucked a quilt around me. And then I cried, seeking to find release for my worries, doubts, and fears. I knew I should pray, but I couldn’t find the words. I remembered from Scripture then that I didn’t need words but that the Holy Spirit would intercede for me. So in that moment, I simply whispered “Jesus…” There was such a closeness then and I knew He was with me. I fell asleep in the recliner knowing that He was holding me. I didn’t feel physical arms holding me close, but the security and love I felt was simply beyond description.
My pastor had talked about intimacy in relationships— how you can’t expect a relationship to function without communication. The same is true in relationship with Christ. I was reminded that I needed to commune with Him, possessing the same eagerness I felt when I picked up the phone to talk to my friend. I wanted to experience the intimacy again— to be back in that recliner where I felt His love in a tangible way. Prayer should never be a string of words directed at Him out of duty to keep the relationship from crumbling; it should be meaningful, heartfelt, and most importantly, a conversation. We need to talk; after all, conversation is a dialogue, not one-sided. His response may not be audible in return, but He is always present and will speak in ways beyond human comprehension.