What is prayer? We know it means addressing God with our requests, but at its very core, it is so much more, and we want to help you discover the depth of it! Maybe you have heard about someone’s extravagant prayer life and thought to yourself, “How do they pray for two hours? I can’t even think of two hours’ worth of requests!”
It’s because they’ve discovered how to connect relationally with God through prayer. So how do we learn to do that?
Let’s start with what Clement of Alexandria (150 – 250 AD) said about prayer:
“Prayer is happy company with God.”
“Happy company.” When was the last time someone spoke of prayer with such blissful and light-hearted language? At the same time, don’t our hearts resonate with such language? Isn’t this what we always hoped prayer would be? And so it is. It is not like writing to Santa having no greater relationship than what you get from him. While prayer certainly includes the act of petitioning (i.e. praying with requests), it is more.
Prayer is engaging in the act of companionship with God.
No one modeled this better than Jesus. Consider the following passages.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12)
And the list could go on. Evidently, Jesus had a lifestyle of prayer. In the context of these passages, Jesus was busy. From morning to evening He was ministering and serving others. That can be exhausting! And what did He do when He had spare time? He committed to praying–to keeping “happy company with God.”
“But Jesus is divine, so was He really tired?”
Yes, Jesus was (and is) truly deity; but in the incarnation, He became truly human, too. With all the weaknesses and realities we face, including tiredness and temptation to prioritize other things.
Let’s be clear, we are not saying to forgo your responsibilities as a spouse, parent, or employee. And sometimes the most spiritual thing we need is a good nap. What we are saying is that Jesus, being God, showcased the value of spending time with God, how could we not follow the lead? Think about it this way:
Since God is Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit), there has always been “happy company” within the Godhead. But this is not reserved for the Triune God alone. Jesus teaches us that we are invited to call God our “Father” and enjoy the company the Trinity enjoys.
In Matthew 6:9, Jesus says: “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven…'” Jesus didn’t say, “Watch me pray to my Father.” Jesus didn’t say, “Maybe one day you will get to call God your Father.” He said to pray like this right now: “Our Father…” (Matthew 6:9). If you are a disciple of Christ, calling God your Father is a birthright belonging to the new birth.
Calling God our “Father” is a privilege, not an entitlement.
But as many as received Him [Jesus], He gave to them the right to become children of God, to those who trust in His name. (John 1:12)
What an amazing privilege! This is worth waking up the extra 30 minutes. It is worth the tension of learning this spiritual discipline. And it is worth experiencing it, and not only believing it to be true.
Let’s follow in Jesus’s footsteps and keep “happy company with God” also!