Prayer – Dating or Marriage?
The news anchor reports the story of a tragedy and ends, “Please keep that community in your thoughts and prayers.” A family loses a loved one and people respond, “Your family will be in our prayers.” I’ve heard people who never otherwise talk about God offer to pray for others in difficult times. What a comfort that we don’t have to face the challenges of life on our own. God invites us, “Call upon me in the day of trouble” (Psalm 50:15).
But what if your efforts were the centerpiece of your faith? What if you were trying to win God’s favor? How would that change your view of prayer? You might fear you’re not good enough. Prayer could be an obligation. You might try to impress God.
Sadly, this is the emphasis for many of our Mormon friends. If they don’t feel worthy God may seem like a distant deity. If they view this life as a test they may be reluctant to ask God for help. Improving your relationship with God depends on perfecting yourself: “Making prayer a daily practice can help us perfect that relationship [with God]—and it can help us perfect ourselves” (www.mormon.org/beliefs/prayer).
When you’re dating someone, you want them to like you. You might be nervous. You try to impress them. You just don’t want to mess up. You hope to have a relationship. When you’re married, you have a commitment. You can share what is on your mind. You laugh together. You can bare your soul and cry together. Your spouse knows you and, in spite of all of your mistakes, loves you anyway.
That’s the radically different view that Biblical Christianity presents of prayer! Prayer is not an attempt to win God’s favor; it stands on the foundation that you already have it. You don’t have to hope God will hear you if you’re good enough; through Jesus, you’re already perfect right now. Based on that reconciled relationship, you have direct access to the Father who knows you by name and calls you his own. This is why James writes: “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
Many are seeking the personal relationship with God you already have.
People recognize prayer’s power and tap into it—especially in times of need. What greater need is there than to reach the lost? When an ‘everyone for themselves’ model is interrupted by a selfless offer to help, people take notice. When your help is an offer to pray for them, it stands out. And when you want to witness but you don’t know what to say, begin with prayer. God stands ready to help. His power changes hearts. And he can use you to reach others so that they also discover the close, personal relationship with God won for all by Jesus.