Written by Jayda Hooge
Have you ever thought about why we pray, apart from feeling like we’re supposed to or knowing it’s the Christian thing to do? All through high school, I treated prayer as an opportunity to present my checklist to God.
My prayers often looked a lot like this: “Dear Lord, thank you for (insert friends and family). Please help so and so with this and that. Please help me with this other thing. In Jesus’ name, amen.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that kind of prayer, but looking back I can see my prayers lacked intimacy.
Sometimes praying can feel boring or aimless. Asking the question “Why do we pray?” has helped me immensely with the intentionality of my prayers. While at Portantorchas Bible School in Costa Rica, I learned that we praise and pray to God because He is worthy.
Simple, right? Yet so profound.
Having an answer to the why question changes how I come to God. It redirects my perspective from seeking God for what He can do for me to seeking Him to know Him.
Practically, when I start my prayers now, I begin by thanking God for who He is, “Thank you that you are a loving and attentive Father. Thank you that you love me deeply and know my heart and pursue me. Thank you that you are a forgiving and gracious God.”
I think you get the picture. I still ask Him for things, but it’s different—more of a deep, trusting relationship. Recognizing, remembering, and proclaiming who God is helps me to have a deeper relationship with Him.
When I allow the truth that God is worthy to inform my actions, it helps me remember who God is and who I am in relation to Him. He is the Creator of the universe and also a loving and attentive Father. I am His child who can come to Him in helpless abandon. Knowing I am helpless without God reminds me of my vulnerable position, but that’s exactly the point.
God wants our vulnerable, real selves.
God welcomes me in whatever state I’m in—distress, anger, sadness, guilt, joy, etc. He wants it all. When I allow myself to trust Him fully, I can come to Him just as I am, helpless, without trying to hide behind my self-righteousness.
The thing about intimacy, as Paul E. Millar says in his book A Praying Life (The Navigators, 2017), is that “you don’t create intimacy; you make room for it…. Efficiency, multitasking, and busyness all kill intimacy. In short, you can’t get to know God on the fly.”
I love this idea because it takes a lot of pressure off of us to perform. I don’t have to try to say the right thing when I’m with God or try to clean myself up before I spend time with Him. I can just come and sit in His presence. Sometimes I’ll read a passage in the Bible and pray through it, while other times I’ll quiet my heart and ask God what He wants to say to me.
As much as I’d like to tell you that I have this all figured out, I don’t! I’m still learning and growing in my relationship with God, and sometimes I just straight up suck at it! Take heart, because prayer is like anything else that takes practice. The more we pray, the more natural it becomes.
Just like any other relationship, our relationship with God will require us to spend intentional time with Him. There are many ways to make room for intimacy with God. We are all different and likely connect with God in different ways. If you’re unsure how you connect with Him best, you can always ask Him! Our God is such a good Father and His heart desires to grow in relationship with His children.
So how will you make room for intimacy with our worthy God today?