I'll be the first one to admit it--- I pray when I need something. I pray when I want something. I pray for me, for myself. Yes, I pray for my family and my friends (key word being my). My prayer life tends to be focused on my immediate world.
I have so much to learn about prayer. When you think about it, as Christians we have been given an amazing opportunity to communicate directly to God--- anytime, anywhere, without pomp and circumstance. Why don't we do it more? Why am I not in constant communication with God if He delights in listening to me share every detail of my day, every worry on my mind, and every excitement I experience? Let's be honest: there are very few people who could sit and listen to me chatter on and on for hours on end; even Chris needs time away from my stream of consciousness!
Further, why am I only communicating with Him when I have a need? What about every other thing that pops into my head? He created me because I bring Him joy. Yes, he knows my thoughts before I speak them, but it doesn't mean He doesn't want the pleasure of hearing it directly from the source---me!
But beyond our needs and a direct line of communication, I feel like there is more to prayer, more than I am seeing or understanding. At certain points in my life, I have felt like I've had an authentic prayer life, when my communication with God was almost a necessity throughout the day. In times past, I've felt intense fulfillment and peace from walking in frequently, daily communion with God.
I long to experience a prayer life where I can't wait to talk to God, where I view a conversation with God as a conversation with a sweet, cherished friend. I have seen glimpses of this type of prayer life, but it hasn't lasted.
I am committing to study more about prayer, to learn and to experience the riches of what God can share with me in prayer.
If anyone has any good resources/books/verses that have helped you come to a deeper understanding of the purpose and experience of prayer, shoot me an email; I am starting with a few now, but am open to exploring whatever has been meaningful to you as well.
And for the rest of you, those who might be where I am, or who might be doubting that prayer is even a necessary, effective tool to communicate with God, I encourage (challenge) you to give it some thought, not just a few moments, but a chunk of time. Pick a time to pull yourself away from the craziness of life--- your cell phone, your email inbox, your Facebook newsfeed, the laundry pile, your work schedule etc. for 15 minutes. 15 minutes may not seem like a long time, but when we have no distractions, it can seem like an eternity. Take 15 minutes to think through how or if you're communicating with God at all. It's in theses rare, quiet times when you'll be surprised what He'll reveal...