One of my favorite parts of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church is his prayer for them. Recently, while thinking about this passage, I was struck by the different kinds of communication we humans employ among ourselves and how that might apply to prayer. Prayer is, after all, communication with God. And it seems like we do not always communicate with him in the same fashion. Might there be different forms, or types, of prayer?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Text Message Prayers
Many people make use of Instant Messaging, or Text Messages, to talk with other people, and some make extensive use of this communication method. I send text messages out periodically, although generally only to those with whom I have an existing relationship. For me, text messaging is mostly used to convey a quick bit of information or ask a simple question and is very informal.
When I first thought about text messaging in relation to prayer it seemed somewhat inappropriate. But then I realized that a lot of my prayer life is pretty quick and informal. Is not a quick blessing for a meal, thanks for a beautiful sunset, or a quick prayer for direction similar to text messaging? It’s generally informal, quickly dealing with a single topic, and shared with one I have an established relationship with. Could it not be that firing off quick text messages to God is actually a form of prayer and quite appropriate for us?
I like to use email quite a bit. Email tends toward being a bit more formal than a text message, at least including some addressee and sender names, and with spelling and grammar being important, at least for me. It also tends toward being more detailed that a text message. It can also frequently cover a variety of topics or issues. Another thing about email is that a response is generally not expected immediately; it may take time to get an answer from the one to whom you are sending the email.
I think that much of my prayer life could be described this way. I am not very big on form. But I do have a tendency to close my eyes and frequently bow my head when I am going to spend more than just a moment in prayer. I am generally not very long-winded in prayer. But I do find that my prayers generally cover a number of topics. And I try to think through what I am saying. In general, I do not really expect an immediate answer but am content to wait for God to respond in his time. This email form of prayer is probably the most common for me with a smattering of text messages thrown in as the occasion arises.
There is a third type of communication that I like, and that is face-to-face (telephones are evil). This communication has the potential to be much more personal. And has the added benefit of allowing the participants to observe all of the non-verbal cues that are missing in a text message or email. Face-to-face communication does not always require words either. Just walking hand in hand with one you love is a pretty powerful communication that can occur entirely without words.
This is the prayer I yearn to have with God. That intimate personal time of coming into his presence and just being with him. Luke recounts a story that illustrates this for me. Jesus came to visit the home of Martha and Mary. Martha got all distracted trying to play hostess while Mary sat at his feet and listened. I like this story because, like Martha, I am so easily distracted by all that is going on around me or in my thoughts. Coming before God with a quiet and still spirit is hard. And it takes a significant investment of time and, oftentimes, relocation to a place without distractions. But the return on this investment is greater than anything that might come from investing the time elsewhere. Just coming into his presence and sitting before him, as Mary did, is the best thing I can do.
Send off frequent emails and text messages to God; that’s a good thing. But be sure that you also take the time to cultivate a relationship with him by spending time at his feet. That is essential if you want to grow close to him.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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