“Prayer gives a man the opportunity of getting to know a gentleman he hardly ever meets. I do not mean his maker, but himself.”
—William R. Inge.
Please imagine for me, entering the life after this one… meeting God. We think of him asking us the abovementioned title as a question: ‘How’s your prayer life?’ Stony silence... It seems like an eternity for us to answer; this is because we realise something very harrowing as we deliberate upon our answer. [Read on]
It’s perhaps only apt to ask a Christian. Rubbish. Everyone communicates with God, even the so-called atheist. The quote above nails it. Through prayer we get acquainted with God, certainly, but we also become intimate with ourselves. God is within us—to know ourselves is (at least on some levels) to know God.
The ironical thing about the question God may ask us is he knows the answer before we even consider the question. He knows all things. But it doesn’t stop him asking. “Where are you?” the Lord asked Adam in Genesis 3:9. God knew where Adam was. God knows where we are too, and he:
“... will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
—Ecclesiastes 12:14 (TNIV).
The time remains ahead of us, though it beckons. The divine questions are about to be asked of us—it only seems we’ve got plenty of time this side of eternity.
So, why does God bother to ask if he already knows the answer to all these things? The answer is very simple, or at least there’s one answer that explains it simply: he asks us these pointed questions in order to reveal to us information about our relationship with him. In relating with him we’re required to be truthful with ourselves, and when we are we can’t help see these things that the Spirit reveals. It’s divine revelation through self-revelation.
God’s soft to the touch. It’s not really about him from his viewpoint; it’s about us… our thoughts, our allegiances, our heart... our decisions. In this same way God probably simply facilitates the judgment. On this side of eternity, at least, he allows us to judge ourselves if we’ve acquired the acuity for it—yet his forebodingly gentle grace covers all; we never fall into condemnation.
‘How’s your prayer life?’ is a question that, once heard, makes us think. It searches us. If we’re even less than half averse to the truth we’ll perhaps react positively. We’ll be at worst stifled in continuing to our ruin—caused to rethink, and at best motivated to change tack and follow the Spirit within—call it our conscience—more ardently.
“Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God.”
When we’re in tune with God’s will for our momentary lives we’re related rightly with him that instant and we are hence praying—communications channels are open and anointed. One of these dimensions cannot truly exist without the others.
It’s all about our relationship with him. Everyone has a relationship with God and this is by virtue (at the very least) of our relationships with ourselves. Prayer is simply the way we align our accord with him... breathe out, breathe in...
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.
I found a wonderful repository for quotes on prayer: http://www.quotegarden.com/prayer.html