What is prayer? It is communication with God. We tend to think of prayer as speaking to God. But communication implies two parties alternately speaking and listening.
I leave Friday for a few days of vacation in Augusta, where we will spend time with my son and his family and also with my father. One of the things I cherish about my time in Augusta is time with my father. I am blessed to have a good father and a good relationship with him. I was blessed to avoid that tension that sometimes develops between father and son, largely because of his wisdom as a father, knowing when to advise me and when to hold his counsel, when to involve himself and when to give room. He’s been a great dad, and the older we get, I think the stronger our relationship grows.
The aspect of my relationship that I cherish most is that I can, and do, talk to my dad about anything and everything. He tends to wake up early and be in the kitchen preparing breakfast before the rest of us are up and moving. And when I hear him banging around the kitchen, that’s a cue to me to get up and join him. I sit at the breakfast bar with a cup of coffee while he fixes sausage and eggs and pancakes. And we have some time to just talk. Sometimes we talk about general things, what’s going on in the world of politics, or how things are going with the Atlanta Braves. But these are also times when it’s natural for me to talk about very personal things. My dad wants to know how things are going with the job, with the family, with the house, etc. And I tell him. It’s a great time for me to ask his advice on matters where his wisdom is simply superior to mine. And though I’m staring fifty squarely in the face, I still seek my father’s advice on any issue of importance in my life.
I tell you this because it is this relationship that has forged my understanding of prayer. Prayer is taking this sweet communion and fellowship and dialogue that I have with my earthly father and translating it to a new level with my Heavenly Father. And I believe this is precisely what Jesus taught his disciples. There is a reason Jesus shifted from the magisterial to the personal, from “Blessed art Thou, O LORD, King of the Universe …” to “Our Father in Heaven.”