Prayer is one of the simplest and one of the most difficult of spiritual disciplines. Every Christians knows that he should pray, but implementing that discipline is a constant struggle for many people.
We can easily ascribe the happenings of daily life to chance or even luck.
Prayer cannot be tested or proven. There is no criteria or system to evaluate the effectiveness of our prayers. And yet millions of Christians engage in this ancient practice every day. We have only a few postures to take in referent to prayer, and understanding them may help us in communing with God.
The first posture we can take is that of the pantheist. God is everywhere and in everything. Prayer then is not the practice of engaging with a distant reality, but rather getting in tune with the deepest realities and the world itself. In Pantheism God is near, but He is not distinct. He is in all, and all is God.
A second posture is that of the Deist. This particular view of God is very popular in today’s culture. In this view God is distant. We call across a great void to heaven not knowing if God is really listening or not. This God arbitrarily decides to intervene in the world on different occasions, but shows no consistency. Prayer in this posture is bleak hope.
A third posture can be found in what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.”
In this view Jesus is not off in “heaven” somewhere, distant and detached from the earth. Nor is He completely absorbed in the created world. Rather heaven and earth are overlapping. We stand in a unique place where God is both beyond us, and intimately involved with us.
Prayer then becomes not calling out to a distant God and asking Him to take over while we sit back and relax, but rather us joining in with the work of God in the here and now. In prayer we become part of the work of God in a unique way. There is no great chasm between God and us. In prayer we actively become part of the work of God’s kingdom.
Prayer is not wishful thinking, but rather a joining of forces with God. We are able to join in the kingdom work of God through prayer. As we petition God in prayer, He in turn looks to us as His hands and feet to accomplish His work here on earth.