When an advertising manager of a local Christian radio station offered me a position years ago as a talk show host because, in his words, I “seemed to know a little about everything,” I jumped at the opportunity. I created Cross Currents, a talk show dedicated to talk about current events under the shadow of the Cross.
Like God, Waiting for a Call-In
During a mid-season show, after giving out the call-in phone number and inviting listeners to call to no avail, I suggested to my audience I felt like God in heaven waiting for someone to pray to him, and waiting, and waiting. Thinking back, I can envision God sitting there behind the great mic in the sky with his face cradled in his hands, waiting for a prayer, even a little prayer, to come his way, and lamenting over having to wait so long for us to talk to him.
God is waiting for us to call in and talk to him.
I can picture God being disappointed in this way, because the creator, and the one who sustains all that exists, is a relational God. He created you and me to be in relationship with him, a one-on-one relationship characterized by an unparalleled openness based on love and trust. Sure, he knows everything about us and all we are about to tell him or ask of him at any point in time, but he wants us to call in and talk to him as much as possible.
Prayer Is Talking with God
A friend of mine once told me she doesn’t pray much because she doesn’t know what to pray about, or she gets tired of praying “the same old prayers.” I asked her how often she talks to God. She told me she talked to him all day, sometimes briefly thanking him, at other times simply asking him for help. I told her she had already been praying. She paused, and said, “I never thought of it that way.”
In this way, praying to God is easier than calling into a radio talk show. You simply raise your heart’s voice to God and express your feeling at the time. He is listening. But just like me and God sitting before an open mic, he wants to engage in a meaningful and ongoing exchange with us.
The Model Prayer
Consider the Our Father, the Pater Noster, the model prayer prayed by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. In establishing a prayer connection with God, we first need to acknowledge who he is, praise his holy name, and express anticipation in his second coming to establish his kingdom on earth. As the will of God brings him glory in heaven, we need to pray his will is done in our lives for his honor and glory, not ours.
A talk-show host is most interested in why someone has taken the time to call in. Even though God already knows why we are praying, he wants us to tell him why we are praying. He wants us to approach him for who he is, the ultimate provider out of pure love for us.
As expressed in the Our Father, there are four petitions we are to make:
provision for our daily needs
forgiveness for our sins
freedom from and help with temptations
deliverance from evil
Whether it's a brief thank you, a few words of praise, a prayer fashioned after the Our Father, or a prayerful symphony deep from your heart and soul, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, wants to hear from us.
Listen to God's Words
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3
In the Words of Others
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Mother Theresa
“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” Kahill Gibran in the Prophet
“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” Mahatma Gandhi
Think About It
What are the characteristics of your prayer life? How often do you pray? What types of prayers? Who do you perceive God is while praying to him?
Consider the Our Father. Read Matthew 6:9-13. How does this prayer summarize the Gospel message?
Describe the key elements in prayer. Are these elements in your prayers? If not, how will you integrate them?