by Martha Nelson
Why do we pray? When most people go to prayer--whether it be in a crisis, or as part of a devotional time--why are they doing it? If you ever pray, why do you do it?
Some of us may answer, "Well, it's because I need something--and I don't know any other way to get it." Or, "I feel there must be Someone up there who understands what I'm going through right now." Most of us pray because we are trying to communicate with someone bigger than ourselves, even if it's just to cry, "Why have you let this happen to me?" But how can we really communicate with God? How can we really touch Him?
Is it possible to touch God in prayer--to talk with Him the way you would with a dear friend? In the last issue of this newsletter we talked about how we were created in God's image (Genesis 2:7). We were created with not only bodies and minds, but something deeper--something called a spirit. God made us this way so that we could choose to be his friends.
The Real You
Our spirit is the "real me" and the "real you"--the deepest part of our personality. It can't be seen, but it is often touched by things like art or music. Having a spirit is what makes us different from animals. It is also the equipment we need to communicate directly with God.
In the Bible Jesus said, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24) Real communication with God--real prayer--is a touching of our spirit by His.
How does this work? If we want to contact God with our spirits through prayer, how do we do it? You may say, "I just don't know how!"
Fortunately we don't need to be theologians or prayer "experts" to learn how to pray. In fact, Jesus said we needed to be like little children--pure in motive and simple in our approach to God--before we could understand these things. (Matthew 18:3)
Being Ourselves in Prayer
We may have been taught to only pray formal prayers, written for us in prayer books. We are afraid to use our own words and to express our own feelings to God. But remember, God created you with a spirit SO THAT YOU COULD BE HIS FRIEND. He wants you to talk to him as freely as you would to your dearest friend. He understands your weaknesses and fears even better than a human friend--because He made you.
The important thing is that you be yourself--and be honest with God. That's what He wants. That's what any friend wants. Don't feel you have to pray the way other people do. Just find a quiet place alone, and start expressing yourself aloud to your Creator.
As we learn to talk freely with God and learn to regard Him as our dearest friend, we may still have times when we feel we need help. We just don't know how to pray! Fortunately, we have not been left alone in this difficulty. God has given us someone to help us pray.
That someone is God's own spirit, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also called the Counselor, the Helper, the Comforter. These names describe his personality--because he does have a personality just as we do--but his personality is God's own.
In Romans 8:26 we read, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."
How do we ask the Holy Spirit to help us in prayer? And how do we know if it is really Him we are touching in prayer? Let's talk more about this next month.
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