I’m the type of person that is extremely conversational when it comes to how I pray. Like, I’ll laugh with God, talk with Him just like I talk to my friends. I just make conversation with Him.
Why? Because I believe that’s what God wants. Yes, I know, He said, “This, then, is how you should pray…” But I believe God delights deeply in authenticity when we talk with Him. And why shouldn’t He? The Bible is ripe with comparisons between human relationships and our relationship with God. Why should our prayers – our conversation – be so formal and traditional and uptight and scripted? Where is our authenticity?
As a youth pastor, I always tell my students when they make comments about feeling awkward when they pray out loud the exact same thing: “God loves the awkwardness. He loves the stumbling and the humor and the little bits of your personality that shine through. He loves the realness, because it is wholly and completely you. It sounds like you and nobody else. And that’s all God wants. You.”
I sometimes wonder about non-charismatic believers. Those who are cessationist, or simply pay no attention to the supernatural realness of God in the world today are missing out on a huge part of the character of God and the depth of this life and the next. But I wonder how that also plays a part in their personal relationship with God. Void of a heavenly prayer language, ignorant of the prophetic power of the Holy Spirit, unaffected by words of encouragement, words of knowledge, words of faith, what does their prayer life look like? Do they keep it traditional and pray in the mornings when they wake, in the evenings when they go to sleep, and over every meal? Or does their prayer life come alive? Do they talk with God throughout the day. Every person I know in my circle of believers who identify as charismatic/Pentecostal has a very living prayer life. They spend not just minutes, but hours talking with God, making conversation, but also crying out to Him, laying themselves down before Him.
Myself, I pray rather constantly. When I’m at work and it’s slow, I’ll just talk with God. Often, I’ll be praying over my coworkers, over my city, over my church, over my youth. Isn’t that what it should look like? Isn’t prayer supposed to be an active part of our everyday lives – not an appointment we’re obligated to keep?
I believe so. Awhile ago, I posted a post titled You Can Have Your Dead Gods. In it, I said, “You can keep your rights and your opinions and your attitudes. You can tout your dead gods and old religions and rusty traditions. You can have it all. But me? Give me Jesus.”
Again I say, you can keep your dry bones, your traditions, your sacraments, your ceremonies, your liturgies. But me? I need something that’s alive, something that I feel, something that lives inside of me, something that I breathe. Faith is never meant to be dead; it’s meant to bring the dead to life.