The Purpose of Prayer (1 of 3)

from the Lent 2016 reading plan

Psalm 145:18, Matthew 7:7-11, 1 John 1:7-9, 1 John 5:14-15, James 1:5-8

BY Guest Writer

Text: Psalm 145:18, Matthew 7:7-11, 1 John 1:7-9, 1 John 5:14-15, James 1:5-8

There’s a constant deluge of calls in my life. Literal phone calls, voicemails, emails, texts, tweets, messages—not a day goes by that I don’t feel the pressure to respond to someone in some way about something.

I remember things being simpler when I was small. The way to reach someone at my house was to call the landline or, as was more common in our neighborhood, just come on over and knock on the front door. The point of contact was just that: to come into contact, to touch, to be near one another.

Sometimes it seems we’re further away than ever from family and friends. I can’t remember the last time I hugged someone just for the sake of hugging them. These days we call because we need an answer, words of comfort, information—rarely just because we need nearness.

Psalm 73:28 says, “The nearness of God is my good,” and these days, I need to remind myself of these words often. This week alone, our little family has a hundred different prayers that necessitate a hundred answers:

Will my husband get the job? Will we move? Will we lose money on our house here? What if they knock down our cozy 1800s farmhouse to build a high rise? What if we have to leave another church and our friends? Will we find a new church? Will we have friends? Will we stay here? For how long?

My counselor recently asked me how God and I were doing these days. I abashedly told her that sometimes it feels like God and I aren’t on speaking terms: I’m speaking to Him, He’s not answering, so I’m shrugging and moving on. “Do you feel far from him?” she asked. My answer was truthful when I said no, that I know He is near. “That isn’t what I asked,” she said. “I asked if you feel far from Him?” And sometimes, I do.

I read in Psalm 145:18, “The Lord is near to all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity.” With integrity. I don’t know what integrity looks like in this season. I know I wear the robes of righteousness gifted to me from Christ, so I couldn’t be more righteous if I tried (Isaiah 61:10). But integrity? Do I come to the Lord with my palms empty, my heart open, my eyes set on Him, and the integral understanding that God is good, right, true, and faithful?

Do I come with integrity when I call on Him?

Integrity means “authentic, whole, and undivided”—and if there’s one thing I know to be true of me, it’s that my heart is utterly divided. I don’t come to Christ just to be near Him or to know His nearness. I come to Him because I want information. I want direction. I want answers. I want resolution.

But prayer is not just the act of asking and receiving; it is the act of being. It is the act of knowing. It is the act of coming near to God with integrity—with a heart that is whole and undivided in its attentiveness to Him. It is knowing and believing that He is near and He hears us, that He is always faithful in His love for us, even when we don’t feel it (Psalm 25:6).

Prayer is less about the words we say and more about the availability of our Creator and King, and the opportunity each of us has to call on Him.

Do I feel near to God? No, not always. But I know He is near to me.

Lore Wilbert is the Director of Community and Formation at Park Church, Denver, and writer at Find her on twitter @lorewilbert.

Post Comments (135)

135 thoughts on "The Purpose of Prayer (1 of 3)"

  1. Krystle says:

    Love the honesty, transparency, and genuineness of today’s devotional. Good stuff!

  2. Fran says:

    I loved the honesty of the writer. The study revealed that I don’t always come to Christ just to know Him. It sometimes is a one sided ordeal. My prayer is to pray more to know Him and not always for a resolution to a problem. God knows my problems and I need to know Him more.

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