God as Prayer Partner – a Short ThoughtAuthor: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Discipleship, Prayer
Prayer is hard work for me.
One of the reasons I have become so devoted to the Psalms is because they build the “vocabulary” of prayer into my life. I have however accepted the fact that I will always be an amateur when it comes to prayer. Many years ago Eugene Peterson helped me immeasurably as I struggled. It was his book Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer. He begins by explaining that biblical prayer is always a response. The whole of human life is answering God. God has already acted and spoken even before I was born therefore my life in every dimension is my reply to grace God has already lavishly poured. Understanding that my prayer(s) is an answer or response or reply to God’s previous word has had a profound impact on me.
Biblical prayer assumes that the Hebraic worldview that God is not a robot or an abstract idea. Rather God is a person deeply involved with his creation at every level and in every dimension. Biblical prayer assumes that God is not somewhere over the rainbow but “very near.” If God has acted/spoken, God waits for our answer. In this way prayer is seen as a conversation between creation and God. It is a genuine dialogue but not a dialogue of equals.
When we read through the book of Isaiah we come to an interesting passage that tells us something about our God and prayer.
“Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious for you:
Therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
Truly, O people of Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem,
you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious
to you at the sound of your cry;
when he hears it, he will answer you.”
This text reveals the character of God. No one has to wonder about God. He is waiting to be gracious. The text knows that God’s people have been disciplined for their unfaithfulness to God’s covenant. Yet something is revealed even in the chastisement both about God and prayer. God is waiting for those who seek him. God is actively listening for the prayer responds to his action.
Learning to Listen
Since prayer is answering God we need to cultivate the discipline of listening ourselves. There is not a micron of Deism in the Bible. God has not stopped acting. God has not stopped pursuing his Mission. God has not stopped even speaking. We need to listen. We need to see. We need to recognize the voice and hand of our Father. We lovingly feast on his word. We seek his face with the saints in communal worship. We discern the path he has blazed in our world. We need to listen so we can answer.
God has acted. He waits for his people to answer him. At the sound of our cry he responds. His response is grace and mercy even in the midst of discipline. God is revealed as a partner in prayer. He longs for our answer …
Prayer is hard work but …
God is talking. God is acting. God is waiting on our answer.