For many people, prayer has been something that they’ve only done in an emergency – “God, whoever you are, please dig me out of this hole!” For other people, prayer is something that only happens sat in an uncomfortable wooden pew at the front of a beautiful but outdated and cold building, saying words that someone else has written, or words that they learned in school. Or still others may feel like prayer is inaccessible to them because they are just ordinary people, and prayer is for super-spiritual people. Some are intimidated to pray out loud because of the language that they hear some people use when they pray.
We believe that prayer is a gift of two-way communication with a perfect Father who wants us to know what his plans are and who wants us to share our lives with him. Knowing this changes how we pray, both on our own and together as a church – Prayer isn’t treating God like a divine vending machine and coming to him with the coins of our good behavior and expecting to get the reward we deserve. Instead it begins with coming to God with a recognition of our having nothing to offer, but knowing that God loves to be merciful.
Prayer is a relationship with a good Father: Prayer is communication with God as our Father. Jesus even allows for the fact that this may give many people a problem, because their biological fathers are less than ideal – most try hard at being good fathers but inevitably fail at some points, some are neglectful, some abandon their children, some actively cause harm. But this Father is a GOOD father. This is so important to grasp, if we are to relate to God with confidence that his response will always be loving and welcoming to his children.
Prayer is a relationship with a good Father who has limitless resources: God is not only willing to respond to the needs and desires we bring to him, but is supremely able. We not only approach him as a loving, generous Father but as an almighty God, the creator and sustainer of all things. In God the Father, we have access to unlimited resources; so, when we pray, we can have confidence that God is able to meet any and every need. We can ask God with boldness for big things, knowing that he is able to supply our every need, and there is no situation in which he is unable to intervene.
This being the case, we must prioritise praying together as a church family! It’s not a ritual or a routine, but a relationship, where we come together expecting to encounter God. And this is what we do – on the second Tuesday of each month, all our communities meet together at Hope to pray together.