I learned to talk to God early in life. I'm not sure when prayer became normal conversation for me, but I've never thought of it as something quoted or said by rote. It was never tradition or said at set times throughout the day. Prayer was as simple as talking to a friend, as heart-felt as sharing my most intimate secrets, as heart-wrenching as begging for help with things beyond my control. From the time I first met Him until now, God has never seemed abstract to me. He has never been remote or unreachable, and talking to Him is as essential as breathing. I used to walk to school as a kid, and the few friends that lived on my block rarely walked with me. I think we just left at different times. And I would come home to have lunch with my dad, who drove home from work to be there with me while my mom worked, then I walked back to school alone. I did a lot of imagining during those times, but that is also where I learned to pray. I would envision Jesus walking beside me, and we would talk.
As an adult, my prayers have been as simple as a morning greeting to as desperate as tears over a serious need. And the older I get, the more I pray. Perhaps I have more time now. But the truth is, I am ever more aware of how little I can do to help those I love. I can't make things happen. I can't fix problems as parents do for young children. I can't control anything at all, except my own reactions to life's situations.
I can't impart truth to another's heart, despite my many words. (Only God holds that role.) I can't open blind eyes or make someone see the God I know and love. I can suggest and even plead with people to change, be they personal friends or lofty politicians, but I cannot make them do so.
I can't heal the sick or cure the ills of the economy. I can't give jobs to those who need them or give peace to those at war. I have no answers for complicated questions, have rarely been good at debating (ask my kids!), and probably see things a little too simply.
But I find God irresistible. And I love to talk to Him.
Of course, that does not mean I have never struggled or doubted Him. On the contrary. Like Jacob who wrestled with God, I have had a long list of life's struggles, and have wrestled with God's plans for me. Unlike Jacob, who is said to have wrestled with God and won out or prevailed - I always lose those battles. (Mainly because I'm asking to get out of something I know He wants for me.) But the prayers that house those struggles always change my perspective, and I walk away renewed.
It occurred to me the other day that not everyone talks to God the way I do. Not that I am special. Just that I wonder how many see Him as both Lord and Friend? God talked to Abraham as a friend, and Jesus when He walked the earth was easily accessible. He came here so that we could have that intimate knowledge of Him, could come boldly before Him for help in time of need. He came as a great High Priest who understands our weaknesses, and is sympathetic to our pleas. And He told us to ask for what we desired, for no other reason than that we are His.
In my prayers of late, I have been asking God to do things that only He can do. Miracle size prayers in some cases. (Like healing for a dying friend.) Others on a much smaller need scale. (Like please help us find those car keys.) As I learn to trust Him more, the prayers that matter most to me, the things I want most from Him, are to give the many people I love that same understanding of Him that He's given me. To walk with Him, to talk with Him daily. To irresistibly draw them to Himself as only He can do.
My dad had a favorite song, that was a favorite of his mom's (my grandma) as well. The song was called "In the Garden" and some of the words go like this:
I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses And the voice I hear, calling on my ear, the Son of God disposes. And He walks with me and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there. None other has ever known.
In the garden, in the park, in the bedroom, in the shower, while making dinner or driving the car, in the supermarket or parking lot, on a plane overseas, or gazing out at the mountains or ocean - anywhere and everywhere - God is there. And He loves me. He knows me. He calls me friend. He rejoices over me with singing!
"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
So if He is with us and saves us and delights in us and loves us and rejoices over us, wouldn't we want to spend time with Him? What better way for Him to irresistibly draw us to Himself?
This is my prayer for me, for you.