We have been talking about prayer a lot here on the Hope Canteen: how it’s central to a life of faith and is the foundation of a relationship with God. If you have spent much time in the church, you have probably talked about, learned, and practiced prayer for many years.
So why are we still talking about prayer? Why do we keep circling back to the same foundations? Why, yet again, are we looking at these basic ideas?
As my children have made their way through school, I have noticed an interesting dynamic in their social studies curriculum. Over the years, they return to study the same concepts. A particular country might come up three or four times over the course of their schooling. At first, it seems like it’s limiting their education; why not introduce them to more places so that they can gain a broader view of the world? Of course, there is more involved.
This is a deliberate choice on the part of their educators. They are prioritizing knowing a few places deeply over knowing many different things. They have decided that my children will ultimately receive a better education by returning to the same area of study. And through getting to know those few places deeply, they will learn more about how human cultures and institutions work.
Likewise, we need to keep coming back to prayer because it is so central and so important. The difference is that we return to it with more mature, experienced eyes. Each time, we are ready for new insights, precisely because we have been here before and we are ready to be led deeper into the heart of God. We circle back, because each time, we grow more.
Humans Are Easily Distracted
The second reason we’re still talking about prayer is that we are so easily pulled away. The “worries of this life” (see Matthew 13:22) get in the way. Our minds and attention wander. Our priorities get thrown off course. Many things compete for our focus and distract us. We need to remember and return to prayer, and to get our priorities–once again–right. We need to be reminded and re-called often.
A Living Word
Finally, we return to prayer because we follow a living God. Prayer sets us in conversation and relationship with the Creator. The Holy Spirit is always speaking and moving, and how we listen changes over time. Newness doesn’t come from a new expression of prayer, but from the way that it calls us to God, who is always doing something new.
Every time we talk about prayer, think of it as a call to explore it more deeply, to take an honest look at your heart, and to listen for how God is speaking to you today.