Sponsor spotlight: Why do we pray?

Christianity is not so much a religion as it is a relationship. Prayer is the language of that relationship. Christians pray in order to participate in the relational life of God and the church.

In popular parlance, prayer is generally understood as asking God for things. But that is only one, and far from the most important, aspect of prayer. It may well be a place to begin for many people, and it is an aspect of prayer that we never outgrow, for we always have needs and desires that we can bring to God. But it is only a small part of the totality of prayer, just as asking other people for gifts or favors is only a small part of the sum total of the words we speak.

Prayer is all the ways in which we interact with God. Prayer is attending to the presence of God, it is listening to God, it is enjoying God. It is worship and thanksgiving and conversation and yes, intercession (asking God for the things we need and want, both for ourselves and for others). It is giving God the things that weigh us down. It is receiving His love and mercy. It is rest, and it is food, for it strengthens us by returning us to our Source.

Prayer is everything that draws our attention back to God. Thus, reading Scripture can be prayer (as can reading a novel!). Watching a sunset can be prayer. Caring for a child can be prayer. These things are not necessarily prayer—we can do them without thought of God—but they have the potential to be.

Most things have the potential to become prayer, if we are in the habit of looking not only at them, but at what they point to, for God has written Himself into creation, into the Scriptures, into each and every human being. Wherever we look, we have opportunities to be reminded of God, and if we heed the reminder, if we turn our attention to Him—even if it’s just a glad exhalation of gratitude or a silent plea for strength or rescue—that is prayer.

Why do we pray? We pray because we are in a relationship, and we want to communicate and commune with the other Person in that relationship. We pray because we are finite creatures in need of divine help, and prayer is the way we ask for what we need. We pray because we are communal creatures, members of the body of Christ, and prayer connects us with our Lord and His church. We pray because we are made in the image of God, and prayer ushers us into the presence of God where we can come to know who we truly are and how deeply we are loved.

—By K.C. Ireton, author, The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year
parishioner, Holy Trinity Edmonds

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