We know it’s hard to pray. It is especially hard to speak to a person when we do not see the person. Yet at the same time we do not find it challenging to interact with strangers, people we’ve never met, on discussion boards, websites, or in business dealings. Yet prayer is unique. There is something different about it. Mainly because we don’t hear a voice “on the other end” speaking back to us.
When we say that prayer is talking to God, we do not mean that you have a heart-to-heart phone conversation with him. So prayer is disappointing when we don’t hear: “Go and do ______ .” We approach prayer with the wrong expectation and understanding. The truth is: God does speak back to you, albeit in a different way.
God speaks to us, not as a voice through the clouds (although that has happened in the past), but through his word – the Bible. There is a reason why the historic Christian faith has connected prayer and the Bible. It is because the Bible is God’s word written down for you. The Bible is not primarily a manual on how to live life, it is not a book full of laws and regulations to live by, nor is it a book full of moral examples (i.e. be like David).
Scripture is two things that we hardly think of. It is a story with an introduction, setting, tension, climax, falling action, and an end. It is a story written for our benefit. We must not miss this truth, especially in light of prayer. Scripture is also God’s word to you, written for your benefit, so that you can have a relationship with him. God reveals who he is through Scripture. It is through the Bible that we know who Jesus truly is. It’s in the Bible where we see the love of God displayed. Scripture provides the ‘eureka’ for who God is. So when we find certain stories of Scripture boring, ask God to reveal himself to you in that particular passage. Prayer, in light of this perspective, is fueled by reading Scripture. So the two go together. When you are not sure what to pray about – pick up the Bible and read it. And the same is true the other way around. When you do not know where to read in the Bible, spend some time in prayer.
Sometimes neither activity seems easy, in those times, there is nothing wrong with simply sitting in silence with God and saying “God, I need you to show me what to do,” or, “God, who are you? Show me who you are.” (If you wrestle to get things out of reading the Bible. This post may help you.)