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veryone seems to "know" what Christianity is, but few can agree about how to live it. It's easy if you follow the original model, Jesus; it's easy to get off base if you take your focus off of Him. Much of what people think is Christianity is really religion. There is a difference. If you are not sure what the differences are, I suggest you read my article True Verses False Christianity, and then return to these pages to learn how to live a healthy and productive Christian Life.
hat is prayer? What role does it play in the Gay Christian's life? How you see and use prayer will determine its role and effectiveness in your life.
I heard an actor say the most difficult part of portraying Jesus Christ in a movie was saying the Lord's Prayer as if it was spoken for the first time. Do you really think about what you are saying when you pray? Or even why you are saying it? Prayer can be something you do without thinking, like saying the Lord's Prayer so many times it has lost its meaning. Is your prayer life just reading a prayer found in a church bulletin, devotional, unison reading during a church service, etc.? When was the last time you prayed?
Why are you praying? Is the reason "all about you?" Is it about your needs or wants? God can be viewed like Santa Claus (Father Christmas), and prayer a mere list of wants and needs. You think the answers to such prayers depend on whether you have been "naughty or nice."
So, this brings us to the heart of prayer, who God is to you. How do you see God? Do you see God as a holy person sitting on a throne, unapproachable, perhaps angry, or easily provoked? Or do you see God as your Divine Parent, your Father, Daddy, your intimate Da-Da? Hopefully, you have learned and recognize the truth Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. You are literally adopted, through the work of Jesus Christ, into God's household; you are God's literal son or daughter. Nothing you can do can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. God is attainable, approachable. God wants to help you, teach, guide, and empower you. You see God less as an impersonal Creator, invisible Being, and more as your living, breathing, loving Parent. Prayer is one form of connection with your Dad.
True prayer is simply communication. It is your heart sharing with God's heart. Prayer is telling God about your day; it is telling Jesus about what you experienced and learned, what you do not understand, the skills you lack and assistance you need. When I was a child, every day after school my mother would ask me about my day. She wanted to know what I did and learned, and if I was struggling with anything. She would comment on what I shared, give me her insights, suggestions, and encouragement; mostly she just listened. Now a parent to my son, I practice the same thing. After many years, I now do not have to ask him about his day, as soon as he is home he eagerly begins telling me. Through many years of open, loving relationship, my son has learned I deeply care about his life, what is going on in his life, his hopes and dreams, and thus, he has a willingness to come to me for advice and assistance.
Good communication is open, and transparent. Seeing prayer as communication within relationship means a willingness to let God be who God really is, not restrict how Jesus can interact with you, or who He wants to be to you. It means a willingness to let go of who you think you are, or ought to be, and be willing to not only listen to the advice and suggestions of your Parent, but also actually incorporate them into your life, have a teachable spirit.
Open communication brings you closer to God, and the closer you get to Jesus the more you know Him. Seeing such a loving, accepting, and involved Parent inspires you to want to be just the same, a reflection of your Daddy. Inspired by Christ's example, His love and dedication, you to want to be taught, mentored, and coached by Him. The more time you spend in Jesus' presence, the more you will become like Him and God. Now and then I find I have some of the same speech and physical mannerisms of my mother; I am a reflection of my mother. The more time you spend with another person, the more you begin to blend, become a part of each other. The more time you spend with God, the more you begin to take on God's mannerisms, values and ethics, and the Holy Spirit's fruit of Love: joy, peace, patience, meekness, gentleness, goodness, faith, self-control, etc.
If your best friend moved to the other side of the world, you talked and chatted less and less, would not your relationship suffer, maybe even dry up? If you have a life partner, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, could you foster a good and healthy relationship, deepen its maturity, if you rarely talked to each other, asked each other questions, desired to know what the other person thinks, wants, and needs, or rarely shared yourself with the other? So, if you want to know what God is thinking, what Jesus wants for you, you need to devote time in prayer. If you want to know how to handle a situation, learn from a mistake, grow and mature, then you need to devote time to fellowshipping with God through prayer.
We do not think of God needing anything, but prayer is an example of how God needs you. Jesus wants to spend time with you, wants to hear about your day, God wants to share with you, too. God is love, and love has a burning desire to give of itself. Can you imagine what could happen in your life if you freely opened wide the doors of your heart, and let Jesus flood your heart with His Love and acceptance? Wow. So, not only do we need God, but God, being who God is, needs you, too.
Communication between two people who have just met will be different than two people who have known each other for many years, or who abide with each other in intimacy. Notice couples that merely need to glance at each other to know what the other wants or is thinking. Notice couples that need not say anything, just being in each other's presence says more than words could ever say. How much time you spend, and how openly you approach prayer as transparent open communication, will influence the depth of your relationship with God and Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, we do not know what to say to someone, or how to say it. God has even taken care of that. God plants the Holy Spirit in the heart of every Christian, and it is the Holy Spirit who helps and guides you in communicating with God. You can freely tell God anything, good and bad; you can tell God off when you think things are not going your way, and you can vent, cry, and laugh. Maybe your way of communication in a given moment might be through music, singing or playing an instrument, or writing in a prayer diary, composing a poem, or walking quietly in a park reflecting on God. Maybe silence is what is needed at the moment, and not talking. One time, when I was praying for a child who had been sexually abused, I got so angry and frustrated I did not know what to say. As I was praying, I found myself mumbling in strange syllables, and I realized the Holy Spirit was praying through me in another language, what the Bible refers to as "speaking in tongues." Sometimes you do not know what to pray, but when you submit to the Holy Spirit, God helps you in your weakness, and leads you even deeper into prayer and communion with God. I did not know what or how to pray in that situation, but the Holy Spirit knew, and helped me unburden my heart. Communication can take many forms, and all of them reinforce your relationship.
You cannot change God, and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You cannot make God change, nor make Jesus go against His nature. Open communication reveals to you the heart of God, what the Holy Spirit knows to be best, and it always agrees with the Law of Christ, the Law of Love, because God is Love; God always has your best interests at heart. Prayer does not change God; prayer changes you. Prayer brings you closer to God, to the heart of God, and the knowledge of Jesus will. Prayer will help move you back to where you once were if you have moved away from God, or help restore your intimacy with God if you never had it before. Prayer moves you to where God is, and where God is you will find the answers you seek.
Communication is not just talking, it also means listening. In fact, studies show that in relationships listening is often more important than talking. When you pray, after you get done saying what needs to be said, do not quickly say "Amen," and rush on with your life. Take some moments to listen. Rarely does God ever audibly talk, but it can happen. When I graduated college, I had difficult finding a job. After many months, I was running out of options, and had little money left. I prayed, "Lord, I need a job, put me where you want me to be, whether I want to be there or not." As soon as the words left my mouth, I thought, "Oh, my, what did I just say." HaHa. To my surprise, I heard a voice plainly say, "Finally." By the end of the week, I had a job, and it proved to be the right one for me.
You know God has heard your prayers not by feeling or hearing something, but by faith. We go not by sight, nor my sound, but by faith. You can tell when you have prayed through, to the other side, arrived where God is; generally, there is a sense of peace, and other attributes of the Holy Spirit's presence. Faith means knowing something will happen before it does, before there is any evidence of change. You have talked it through, you have moved to where God wants you to be, laid it at Christ's feet, and left it there. You are empowered by faith that God will see you through. But, sometimes we don't sense anything, we have to go by blind trust, believing that God cares and heard. We know Jesus is working on it, we know by faith. We trust; you can trust someone with whom you abide in relationship.
When answers do not go as you thought, you are not distressed, but know with confidence God always has your best interests at heart, and trust in God's wisdom. We do not seek our way, but God's way. When we look back down the road, we see the wisdom of it all, and God's invisible Hand and touch throughout it all. There is never reason to be mad at God for disappointments in life, or if we do not get the answer we thought we needed or deserved; trust, God knows best. Garth Brooks, Country music recording artist, said in one of his songs, "Sometimes God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." An answer that is "no," or no answer, just silence, could be the best answer. God's answer may not be served on a silver platter; you have to work for it to come to pass. God's silence does not necessarily mean "no," it may mean "not now," or "I am working on it." Trust, do your part, and let God do God's part.
Jer. 29:13; Psalm 91:15; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 58:9a; Isaiah 65:24; Matt. 18:19; Mark 11:24; Luke 11:9; John 14:13; John 15:7; John 16:24; Acts 16:18; Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16.
See Also: Books: Gays, Lesbians and Christianity.
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