“Simple Prayer involves ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate Father. There is no pretense in Simple Prayer. We do not pretend to be more holy, more pure, or more saintly than we actually are. We do not try to conceal our conflicting and contradictory motives from God—or ourselves. And in this posture, we pour out our heart to the God who is greater than our heart and who knows all things.”
― Richard J. Foster, Prayer: Finding the Hearts True Home
I have been pondering what I should write for this month's blog for a few weeks. In fact, I was going to skip writing a blog this month because I wasn't inspired to write about anything. Nothing was coming to me at all. But then, a spark of inspiration came when I passed by an empty room in my house. A single chair sits in this room. This isn't a fancy chair, but an oversized lawn chair. I put this chair in the room so it wouldn't feel so empty. Over time, I found myself coming into this room and sitting in this chair to pray. It was not my intention to make this room a place of prayer. It just happened that way. Yet, despite its simplicity and plainness, this chair has become a sacred place for me to meet with God. To be honest, I was skeptical when I got the idea for this blog. The first thing I thought was, "Nobody wants to hear about a chair!" But here we are! The purpose of this blog is not to teach about prayer but to encourage those who may feel disconnected from God. No matter where you are, God is always near. You may have left God, but God never left you. It is my hope that through this blog, you will see God not as a judge, but as a loving friend who desires to speak with you.
Prayer is often characterized by outward piety and scriptural recitation, full of religion but without a personal connection. However, personal prayer is rarely seen as a conversation with God. Instead, it has been reduced to a religious exercise where we talk "at" God but not "with" God. As a result, prayer becomes a monologue rather than a dialogue because we are simply going through the motions with someone we do not know.
This chair (pictured above) is my place of prayer. It is a daily reminder that I have an appointment with God. I have often poured my heart out to God from this chair. I have shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have even been angry with God and questioned God's love for me. During times of intercession, I have strategically spoken scriptures in prayer until conflicting circumstances aligned with God's Word. I have experienced my most vulnerable moments in this chair. Even now, I can still see crumpled tissues from the tears I shed the night before lying on the seat of this chair. They are the remnants of my joy, sorrow, hope, frustration, faith, travail, gratitude, and intercession. As I pick up the tissues, I throw them away, knowing there will be more to come.
I have never once felt judged or condemned following a time of prayer. Even when I get so busy that I miss my prayer time, God just picks up where I left off. My vulnerability before God has never resulted in God's wrath. People may not be able to handle your truth, but God desires it. Behold, you desire truth in the innermost being, and in the inner part of my heart, you will make me know wisdom (Psalm 51:6, AMP). God will never cast you away or turn a deaf ear to you. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away (John 6:37, NIV). It is your authenticity with God that brings about deliverance. Whenever you pray, be yourself.
It is not uncommon for God to speak through scripture, but this is not always the case. God may not always speak to you at that moment. It is impossible to predict how, where, when, or through whom God will speak. Sometimes, the peace of God is your only confirmation that everything will be alright.
Of course, you can pray anywhere, but there's something about having a dedicated space to talk with God. Even Jesus went to a certain place to pray. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35, NAB). There should be few distractions in your prayer space so that you can feel comfortable and relaxed. However, don't make it too comfortable where God finds you sleeping instead of praying, like he did the disciples. This has happened to me on many occasions! I can imagine God asking me jokingly, "Could you not tarry with me for five minutes?" Believe me, it's okay. God knows we are only flesh! Ultimately, what is more important is the condition of your heart.
All of your secrets are revealed when you come to God. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13, NIV). Prayer is a sacred time of vulnerability with an audience of one. How can you hide from a God who knows everything and is everywhere? The Lord knows you so intimately that even before you utter a prayer, it has already been answered. Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear (Isaiah 65:24, NIV). Since we have this blessed assurance, let us pray!
Lord, I come to you with my whole heart, knowing that you are full of grace and mercy. Lord, you are good and ready to forgive. Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Teach me your ways. Keep my steps in line with your will for my life. As I draw near to you in prayer, you will draw near to me and never cast me away from your presence. Lord, open my heart to receive your love, forgiveness, and grace. Thank you for hearing my prayers, and I pray that you will increase my faith as I seek you daily in prayer. Amen.