Summary: A must read!
Part of the legacy that Grandmother leaves to her family and friends is prayer—not formulaic or ritual prayers, but intimate conversations with God, as if she were speaking with a friend. Little Mother wasn’t so much a prayer warrior as she was God’s friend, who maintained a lifelong connection with Him through prayer. Thus, it would have been as strange for her to consult a book on how to pray as it would be for you to pull up a You Tube video on how to breathe. To Little Mother, prayer just came naturally.
I recall some of our phone conversations. She lived in Los Angeles and I live in Nampa, Idaho, so we didn’t get to see each other that often. And after age 99 or so, her hearing wasn’t the best, so our phone calls were brief. She was always happy to hear from me and my kids, and she was never lacking in gratitude to God for her longevity and pride for her family.
Prayer is a relationship
Funny, whenever we talked, I never Googled “five ways to call your 100-year-old grandma.” I never worried about whether I was sitting or standing or whether I was holding the phone in my hand or had it wedged between my shoulder and my ear. I just talked to her. A connection was made. A relationship maintained.
And that’s why I pray—to maintain a relationship.
Prayer is foremost a relational experience with God. That’s why the opening of the Lord’s Prayer— the model prayer for citizens of the kingdom of heaven—is such a joyful surprise and such a scandal.
After showing the disciples what prayer isn’t (Matthew 6:5– 8), Jesus revealed the essence of prayer by teaching them to say, “Our Father . . .” Those two words define both the power of prayer and the nature of the kingdom of heaven—the fatherhood of God! Understand this: The power of prayer is not in formulas or techniques. It’s in the relationship between God and the pray-er.
We’re so accustomed to talking about having a personal relationship with God that we can’t appreciate how Jesus’ words exploded into the ears of those who heard them for the first time. Of all the things the disciples had ever learned about prayer, this was certainly not one of them. They were not even permitted to say the name of God aloud, let alone refer to Him as “our Father.”
This is the Almighty we’re talking about. Being so familiar—so family oriented—with Deity was unheard of. How does one address God?
I did a quick Google search on how to greet royalty and came up with the following etiquette tips:
•Approach the monarch from the right. Members of a royal family stand in a receiving line when you meet them. After your name is announced, men may bow and ladies curtsey. Shake the monarch’s hand only when it’s offered.
•Address a queen as “Your Majesty” upon meeting her. Call her “ma’am” for the remainder of the conversation, but use “Your Majesty” again at the end of the exchange. A king should likewise be addressed as “Your Majesty,” followed by “sir.” Royals that are not heads of state should be addressed as “Your Royal Highness.”
•Follow the royal’s lead in any conversation. Be polite and charming when at a loss for a conversation. Bring up an interesting news item of the day.
This is how you greet an earthly king. But the King of all creation? Jesus shocks the disciples and us by explaining that we are to approach the Almighty, not as subjects, but as children. We’re to call Him “Father.” And this is another reason why I pray—to reaffirm my standing and enjoy the blessings and privileges of being a child of the King.
A king has many subjects, but only a few share his bloodline, making them royals. The king’s children don’t just live in the kingdom. They occupy the palace. They live with and have direct access to the king himself. By teaching us to address God as “Father,” Jesus is letting us know that just having a personal relationship with God is not enough. In the kingdom of heaven, God desires kinship. And maybe that’s why we struggle in prayer and have trouble walking in kingdom power. We’re approaching God as King rather than as Kin.
The implications of this are staggering. Consider this: If God is our Father, then Jesus is our Brother! In teaching His disciples to address God the same way He did, Jesus puts us on equal standing with Himself!
Note His words carefully: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. . . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:20, 23).