It may seem strange to write about “living” prayer. Obviously, I write this intentionally not to jar, or shock you, but to realize prayer can be living and there are times, it may seem dead. Dead prayer is like a wish. It not far removed from a superstition or throwing salt over your shoulder. Dead prayer desperately holds luck. Dead prayer views living prayer as infantile, immature, and unnecessary since we are all grown-up and adult. The list is endless.
Dead prayer does not mean what it says, because faith is detached from prayer. Without faith, prayer wilts. I’m not going negative, but I do believe when prayer dies it has little to do with God and everything to do with us.
Richard Foster in his now classic, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, puts it like this: “To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer.”
Again, this is not pessimism. It is realism. Such a quote simply stands as a strong reminder the ball is in our court. It is up to us whether or not to pray. Granted, there are all kinds of excuses, obstacles, and defenses, we identify and quickly employ when it comes to thinking about our personal prayer life. But my emphasis is to look at prayer as a form of knowledge. God is all-knowing or technically, “omniscient.” God knows.
Prayer allows us to think, ponder, and look for God in our everyday, ordinary life experiences. Read that sentence over again — please. It is more than a mouthful. It is a mindful. Prayer informs our minds with information. This not head knowledge. Nor is it memory work of facts and figures and data that can with the push of a button receive an answer from Google or Siri. Prayer has to do with the formation of a relationship between what you and God plan on doing together.
Notice as well, prayer brings us to a place of transformation … that is, change. Get ready. Living prayer is for real and it is designed not to simply knock your socks off, but as prayer comes alive, so too does faith. And with faith, confidence (Latin: con-fidare) is around the corner. Trust joins quickly and the heartbeat of prayer informs our minds with the knowledge of God who is “too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6). What takes place with living prayer is not only do our spirits come alive but we again continue the movement from a self-centered life to a life now centered in God.
Put it this way, living prayer is not navel-gazing or becoming a recluse. Living prayer simply moves us from inviting God into our life to realizing we have been invited into a life with God. It is a never ending, eternal life that is only a prayer away.
Here a conversion of the heart takes place, we are opened by grace to renewal, and we are aware that through living prayer, we have entered God’s life. God is no longer distant, silent, or sitting up there somewhere. God moves to the center of our life and we pray like never before.