I am first called to prayer because it is a key vehicle to building my love relationship with Jesus Christ. Hear me now this is important. Christianity is not primarily rules. It is a relationship.
Aren’t you sick (I think everybody is) of “rules” Christianity? Every day somebody’s got another rule for us to follow to be “good” Christians. Don’t get me wrong. Certainly there are commands in God’s Word and promises. Certainly Christ has standards, but we don’t become Christians because we “receive standards.” We become Christians because we receive Christ, who loves us, died for us, lives in us daily.
What I need, then, is to build my love-grace relationship with Him. And I, like most of us, know so little about love-grace relationships. I have to learn to allow Him to embrace me, to care for me, to point out my needs to me (and how He fills them). I need to listen to Him, and I desperately need to talk to Him.
Where and how is all this done? In prayer. In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul prays, “that you may be able to comprehend… what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…”
“Know” in this passage is the same word used for the intimate closeness of a husband and wife in sexual embrace. “Whoa -too early for that, Dan.” Well, the Bible doesn’t think so. Paul is praying that you and I will experience that kind of love with Christ -not sexual, but intimate, deep, close, unfettered. It is so deep that Paul later says it “surpasses knowledge.” Imagine – he wants us to know what is too deep ever to be known!
Where do we experience this? One place we can learn to do so is in prayer. Even Paul’s desire for us to experience this life is voiced in a prayer (Eph. 3:14). When we “get down and get honest” before God, we are on His turf in a unique way. Seldom do we get closer to Him than in prayer.
One girl from a Jewish background wrote the following: “I now know Christ is here all around me, just waiting for me to reach out, to let Him love me…” When we pray, we can pray to experience this love, to be bathed in it, to learn how to give it back, to learn how to let it seep into the dry cracks and crevices of our lives.
In fact, the longer I love, the more I think that the chief reason for the gift of prayer is that we learn to receive, experience, and return His love in genuine relationship. Prayer is one place when God can get at us (and we think prayer is for getting at Him!) and speak to and minister to us. It is for this reason first that we can learn to rush to prayer.