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The Mystery of Prayer
There are many things in life I find to be a mystery. For instance, if my body was created with a system to dispose of waste, why is it I still carry so much extra with me every day? Another mystery that baffles me is why some random seats in theaters and airplanes are larger than others but I always manage to possess the smallest in the facility.

A serious mystery in my life, however, is the mystery of prayer. Perhaps these question don't vex other people the way they do me, but I often wonder why it is necessary to pray. I mean, if God is eternal, omniscient omnipresent and omnipotent, how are my praises, thanksgivings, confessions and petitions going to have any real lasting effect on Him? I can't change His nature or His will. He is not added to nor diminished by my prayers or lack thereof. So why do it?

Then again, the question really does look at prayer from only one angle doesn't it? Is what we really want from prayer to be able to manipulate God to our will? Do we want what we want or are we seeking what we need?

So, as I have matured as a Christian I committed myself to the practice of prayer for the sake of spiritual growth. I began to have my �daily quiet times.� These were prescribed times in which I was to devote myself to praise, thanksgiving, confession, meditation, and petition in that specific order. I call these prescribed times because in my bringing up they were literally prescribed by my spiritual elders for the temptations and emotional upheavals that came my way.

But my mind is a wanderer. I can't sit still for that length of time, and if I do, my mind ends up in Pakistan or some other exotic place.

I really wanted an answer to all this. And help came to me by way of a 16th century monk by the name of Brother Lawrence. Seems Lawrence suffered from my condition; a deep desire to commune with God but a short attention span.

Brother Lawrence is famous for developing the practice of experiencing the presence of God throughout our daily life.

Practicing the presence of God is a life of continual joy. Following are some joy factors that come from this practice.

  • To practice the presence of God is to be in constant communion with our heavenly Father. Charles Spurgeon relates the story of a man known for his remarkable spiritual depth. When the man died Spurgeon visited his home to learn a little about how he gained so much maturity. He was especially interested in the man�s prayer life. When Spurgeon asked the family where the man retired to pray, they replied that he didn't have a specific place, but that he was in a constant state of communion with God. Few realize that God is with them in everything they do. Those that gain this realization find great joy in it.

  • To practice the presence of God is to carry a spirit of prayer into all aspects of life. Only those who have been deprived of the ability to breath freely truly appreciate the act of breathing. Only those who have experienced great pain appreciate what living pain free truly means. Unfortunately many Christians take their ability to pray to God any time and anywhere for granted. But prayer is for us what breathing is for the body. We need constant contact with God, a continual presence which brings us our spiritual oxygen.

  • To practice the presence of God includes sleeping in His presence. The Psalmist says �Rest in the Lord� Psalm 37:7. Psalm 127:2 says �He giveth His beloved sleep.�

  • To practice the presence of God is to walk the direction God walks. It is impossible to walk with God if we walk in a way that is contrary to His will and nature. Jesus said, �I am the way.� Many take that to mean He is the means to an end, the way to get to Heaven. But his statement is much more profound than that. He is the way to live. To be in Christ is to be in The Way. In fact the earliest Christians referred to themselves as The Way or Followers of The Way.

  • To practice the presence of God is to develop a friendship with Him. John Anthony Hanne in his book Prayer and Pretense said �prayer is a friendship with God that makes conversation possible.� Being friends with God is as essential to our spiritual relationship as being friends with our spouse is to our marriage. The characteristic of friends is open communication. Friends talk about anything and everything openly.

    When we come to praise God on Sunday and spend time in His presence it should be a very natural act, an outgrowth of what we have done all week. Let�s not allow our praise times to be like running into someone on the street we were supposed to call but forgot.

    � 2005 Jerry Sizemore
    Jerry's Neighborhood
    See Change The World School of Prayer for additional readings