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A Prayerful Attitude

We should approach prayer as a conversation with God born of relationship, not like an opportunity to present a shopping list at a fast-food outlet.


Driving up to the menu sign, you hear a voice crackle, "May I take your order?"

"Yes," you say, "I'd like to have more time for Bible study, and please heal Mrs. White."

"Drive up to the window and your prayers will be answered," the voice replies.

Is this how you pray? Should prayer be like a drive-through restaurant? No, of course not, that's silly, you reply. But think about how you do pray. I have prayed like this at times.

My attitude was that just as you need to eat and breathe you need to pray. However, prayer for me was not every day or even every week at times, and had nothing to do with spiritual sustenance. It was a "required" part of being Christian and I mentally read off a list of issues I wanted God to fix. I usually didn't connect emotionally when I prayed. I didn't see prayer as a conversation with my Creator and Saviour.

When you speak to a friend, what do you say? It's not just a list of things you need that friend to do for you. You most likely talk about personal things, such as what you've been thinking about at school or work. Often, we talk to friends not just to relay information, but to connect emotionally. We want friends to understand our feelings and comfort us. We need to know that our friends love us and accept us. It's nice to know we have brothers and sisters in Christ.

All people, though, are imperfect and cannot always be there for us or cannot always relate to us. That's why God has provided a friend for us, that person being Jesus. Jesus will keep our deepest, darkest secrets, if that's what's best for us. Jesus can calm us when we are caught up in emotion. He can provide answers to any question we have. He's there 24/7.

I know I'd like to spend a lot of time with a friend like that. Daily conversation would definitely be more meaningful with him than with anyone else.

In Christian prayer, we tap into our loving, living Creator. As someone who has known us our whole lives, God knows us better than anyone else: "The Lord knows those who are His … " (2 Timothy 2:19). He gave us prayer to communicate with Him, but also to confide in Him, to lean on Him when we are weak. If it seems that no one hears us crying out, He does.

Looking in the Bible—the Psalms specifically—we see those who implore God to hear their prayer (see Psalm 88:2 and Psalm 102:1). This may seem to indicate that they have not experienced an audible, one-on-one question and answer session with the Creator. As a matter of fact, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has. So how do we have a conversation with a silent God whose voice we have never heard? If you'll have patience with me, I'd like to compare it to e-mail.

… to receive your reply, you must be "online" to look for an answer.

Your prayer is sent to heaven to be heard by God. You may have to wait for a reply. However, to receive that reply, you must be "online" to look for an answer. Putting this in spiritual terms, don't just pray about something and never pray again until another problem comes up. Continue to pray, bringing Him updates on the matter as well as updates on how you are feeling about the issue plaguing yourself or loved ones.

Another aspect of prayer is the fact that just having someone who can unfailingly be trusted with your innermost fears is an amazing thing. In fact, I believe that one of the main purposes of prayer is to give people an outlet for their emotions. God doesn't need to be told about your hardships and triumphs. He already knows about them. The true benefit, I believe, is our outpouring of emotion, which is accepted, blessed and returned spotless.

A prayerful attitude is not a sudden and guilty plea when we do wrong. It is conversation between God and His people, a connection between our lives and the Creator. We must be willing to follows God's ways. As it says in Proverbs 15:29, "The Lord is far from the wicked but He hears the prayer of the righteous." If we keep Jesus as our friend at all times, through everything we do, conversation with Him will be a delightful and meaningful part of our lives.

Danny Allen is a member of the Edmonton, Alberta Worldwide Church of God congregation.

Originally published in the Northern Light Magazine, November 2002.




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