There are many theologies of prayer that rub me the wrong way. Certainly, the Transactional Theology of prayer that says if you pray hard enough or long enough or well enough, God will “answer” your prayer. You will receive good health, wealth or the relationship you desire. That is not how I know prayer. For me prayer is the participation in a life-giving relationship that already exists. My prayer does not make anything “happen.” My prayer is the moment that I trust God’s promise of never leaving me. From the moment our triune God of Relationship created all that is, there has been a connection between me and God. (And you and God, but for now this is about me!!)
My prayer does not make that relationship stronger. My prayer acknowledges that it IS.
So then if it IS, why pray?
Because we are in relationship. God desires our prayers. God desires our coming to talk and listen. Imagine your relationship with your child, friend, partner if you never talked or listened to them. What would you be missing? Is there a part of yourself that yearns for the close connection that communication brings?
We reach out because we are connected.
My relationship is not only about me and God. Since the beginning, we are also connected to each other. Praying with and for each other, honors that sacred connection as well. Even if you do not personally know the people or place for which you pray!
A few weeks ago, we had Family Sunday School at Faith. One of the interactive stations was to find a place in the world, outside the United States, and write a prayer for all creation that calls that place home. The families were encouraged to look up that place in the world on their cell phone and learn something. This learning station was a favorite. Families huddled around the internet and decided on what people, animals and events to include in their prayers. Then they had to put their ideas into a prayer.
God connects us to each other. We muddy that divine connection in our transactional prayers. Our prayer life becomes an economy of give and receive. That is not the economy of God. We do not pray to be blessed. We ARE blessed.
Going back to last Friday night and the teenagers on my driveway…
I felt the connection. Even though I could not hear what they were saying, it was a powerful experience. When they were done, they came to the door and said hello before they continued on their way. As the giggles and slamming car doors faded, I entered my house changed.
I am not alone. We are not alone. We are made in the image of the God of Relationship. Being reminded of this fills me with joy as I see on Facebook or hear in face-to-face conversations the promise, “You are in my prayers.” Through God, we are US!