A BLOG SERIES ON THE PATH OF A DISCIPLE
I met a dear friend of mine at a local coffee shop a few weeks ago just to catch up. We had been playing phone tag for days as we were navigating through the busyness of our lives. It seemed like we hadn’t actually talked in several weeks. We had texted and followed each other on social media, but just sitting down to talk, unfortunately, hadn’t fit into our schedules.
I was anxious to hear all about her life lately and I looked forward to updating her on mine. And as we sat down, I realized that many other people had the same idea. And though my guess would be that the topic of conversation varied from table to table, there was one consistency with each person. Everyone was talking, sharing, and connecting with the one sitting across the table from them.
After googling random surveys regarding the key to thriving relationships, I realized immediately that the contents varied quite significantly however, there was one commonality that stood out in a large majority of these articles. Over half of them had healthy communication as the #1 most important factor in that relationship developing into a successful one. Yet I would say that it’s an area that a lot of us struggle in. We know how to talk, we just may not know how to communicate, which entails more than just us talking to someone.
Relationships grow and flourish when we talk, listen, and share honestly for the purpose of advancing the level of the relationship. My guess would be that if we asked ten people what the greatest contribution to the lengthy duration of their most fulfilling relationships was, they would most likely say “healthy communication”. We find it to be so important, yet most of us tend to come up short with it to one degree or another.
Healthy communication opens doors, deepens connections, builds trust, and solves problems, but it also comforts us. Just like sitting in a coffee shop, talking with our friends. Though we have no conversation agenda or topics to cover, we come together to just spend time with one another, to listen, and to talk. And while these relationships are wonderful to have, there is one relationship that ranks over everything.
As Christians, our relationship with Jesus Christ is by far the most important one that we will ever have. Not only does our trust, faith, and surrender to Him offer redemption, peace, joy, and an eternity in Heaven, but this relationship also feeds the rest of our relationships. And as we see the benefits of communication in relationships, we must also see the degree of importance Jesus placed on prayer.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Jesus prayed to His Father on many occasions, but he also intentionally taught His Disciples to pray. Prayer was Jesus’ line of communication to His Father and The Bible shows us the value and necessity He placed in it throughout many instances of the New Testament. Jesus prayed to God for comfort, He prayed for answers, He prayed for direction, guidance, assurance, and help. Jesus prayed to communicate with God in any and all situations. Each of His decisions, difficulties, and celebrations was approached first with prayer.
He did it in secret, He did it in the company of a few and the crowds of many. It was His connection to the One who sent Him here to live fully as man and fully as God. And as much as He recognized His need for it, He also prayed so that He could offer an example to His people because He knew that as God’s people, it would be necessary for us too.
As followers of Christ, we have been given the gift of prayer. We have the ability to go to God about any and all parts of our lives, and prayer is absolutely a tool that allows us the ability to be heard by our Creator. It’s also a place where we rest in Him and open our minds and heart to receive what He is speaking into our lives.
However, prayer is not solely for the purpose of talking and bringing our wants, needs, problems, and questions to him –prayer is about the praise and adoration of who God is and what He has done. In these moments of praise, we recognize that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Prayer puts our hearts in alignment with what the Almighty wants for our lives. Prayer helps us to recognize wrongs and, in this place, we ask for forgiveness. Prayer connects us and sustains us. And the Bible tells us that we should be constant in prayer.
I would go so far as to say the depth of our prayer life is a pretty solid indication of our faith, trust, commitment, and desire to be in the presence of a Holy God. And while I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, I also believe it to be true. Our priorities in life are a pretty clear picture of what our hearts are devoted to first. What do you put first in your day? What are the first thoughts on your mind each morning? Just as we only end up at a coffee shop with a friend through intentionally planning to be there –so it is with our time spent with Jesus. As your alarm goes off in the morning and the thoughts of the day begin to swirl in your brain –just stop, take a breath, and set aside those first moments of this new day to commune and rest in the company of the One who gave you life. And as you go through your day, continue that attitude to intentionally be with Him.
Jesus taught His Disciples how to pray and now He teaches us. The ability to commune with the Creator of all things is a gift. This open door is not only life-changing for us but also for those around us. If prayer is only a small part of your life, I want to encourage you today to begin setting aside time to talk to the one who placed you here for a purpose. There is nothing too big or too small. He created the world, and he created the tiny grains of sand. Big, small, good, bad, happy, and sad –He wants us to bring it all to Him and find rest. And as we rest, we find JOY in faithful, purposeful, and ceaseless prayer.
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