What Is Genuine Prayer? : Towards A Theology Of Prayer, Pt. 8

In my previous post of this series (other article links below), I argued that because God is the MOST genuine being in existence and because He is, at the core "Relational" (my term: "Omnirelational"), then, it follows that He desires a genuine relationship with humans. One of the elements that helps humans connect with this genuine God in a genuine way, is prayer. My starting point or definition of prayer is: Attending to the presence of God around us and in us. In this post, I want to explore the concept of "genuine prayer". In the main, I want to ask and attempt to answer three questions (not necesarrily in the following order): What is genuine prayer and what does it look / sound like? How do we pray genuinely? Why is genuine prayer necesarry?

First of all, I want to address the question of why genuine prayer is necesarry. First and foremost, it is necesarry because any other type of prayer turns into manipulation and thus becomes something other than prayer. Disingenuous prayer is like befriending someone not to be their friend, but to get something from them for yourself. We can see how such a relationship is both dangerous and unhealthy and is therefore, not really a "friendship" at all.

In a disingenuous relationship, someone is always trying to hide something, cover something up and prevent something from coming to light. As humans, we tend to do this when we don't want people to know the truth or when we are scared of revealing something about ourselves. If God is the most genuine being and thus, never acts this way toward us, neither should we act this way toward Him. Yet, the truth is, many times so-called Christians do act this way toward Him. In fact, some people take these sorts of facades to the extreme! Think about the people who burst out in sheer anger towards God all the time! Think about the people who just disregard God! Think about the people who imagine that they can "name it and claim it". Think about the people who act as if they must always be timid in their prayers and thus, never share their real thoughts and emotions with God (it's always the same). I've said for years now: God is not scared of or threatened by our true thoughts, emotions and words; we can be honest with Him in these areas! Any theology that believes God is sovereign, will realize this!!! Anyway, disingenuous acts such as those above are not only unhealthy, they are also acts that, as I said, move out of the realm of "prayer" into something else.

So, if that is the case, then: How do we pray genuinely? Well, in my view, we pray genuinely by first understanding that prayer is, above all else, the attempt to attend to God's presence. In doing this, we are first and foremost seeking God's wants and desires, not our own. Yet, as I argued in the previous post of this series, the human element or human interaction is not totally ruled out of the prayer event. In fact, genuine prayer allows us to come to God and even voice our frustrations or worries with His desires when we find that they are in tension with ours. Moses, Abraham, Jonah and even Jesus did this! To say it again: God is not threatened by us!!!

If all of this is correct, then what is genuine prayer and what does it look / sound like? Well, genuine prayer is simply entering into the prayer event in all honesty and genuineness; there are no other motives or goals other than finding out God's wants and desires. If, upon finding out those wants or desires we realize there is tension between our desires and God's, we can feel free and are actually urged to share them because that's what genuine prayer looks and sounds like. It sounds like Abraham pleading with God to give the people another chance. It looks like Jesus, on His knees, pleading for another way to close things out...sharing His desire to be delivered from the cup He's about to drink.

So, realize that genuine prayer makes way for genuine feelings. And remember that God is not threatened by us. We can approach God and share our truest and deepest thoughts not only about ourselves but also God's wants and desires. Some great Scripture examples of this will be provided in several of the following posts. Until then, check out previous posts in this series below.


Other posts in this series:

1) Defining Prayer
2) Imaging Prayer
3) Asking in Prayer
4) Why I Don't Pray For Things
5) Pray Without Ceasing? Why?
6) Does Prayer Work?
7) Can Prayer Change God's Mind?

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