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Prayer as Connection

By February 27, 2022April 6th, 2022Audio, Discipleship, Home

Matthew Scott — Prayer as Connection — Sunday, February 27th

Second in our Dis­ci­ple­ship series, we con­sider prayer as con­nec­tion to our per­sonal God.

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During our current dis­ci­ple­ship focus, you may want to meet with one or two others each week to talk and to pray.  Included here is a resource to help you, drawing on the message from last Sunday, and free for you to adapt and use.  You can equally use this at home, with others or alone.


As defined at the outset of our series, prayer is the prac­tice of attend­ing and respond­ing to the per­sonal pres­ence of God.  For the next two weeks, our focus is on how that prac­tice deepens our sense of inti­mate con­nec­tion with the Lord, which makes life pro­foundly worth living.  In what follows we’ll look at the impli­ca­tions for the prac­tice of prayer, and for the expe­ri­ence of con­nec­tion, of knowing God as a person.

Consider: when you pray, how do you imagine the One you’re praying to?  What is God like when you are praying?

In theory, most of us assent to the idea that God is three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  In some strange way we figure they are all dis­tinc­tive but all present when­ever we pray: in theory.  In prac­tice, most of us can’t trans­late the theory into any­thing very mean­ing­ful, so we relate to God as though he were some­thing else.  We relate to the Father as a source of warmth and secu­rity; to Jesus as a source of for­give­ness and accep­tance; to the Spirit as a source of strength and peace.  Prayer then becomes an exer­cise in resourc­ing our­selves with all the good things God can provide.  We come to God and we remind him – and our­selves – that he is good, and loving, and pow­er­ful.  Then we ask him to give us what we expe­ri­ence as our need.  In prac­tice, our ways of praying figure God as a quar­ter­mas­ter: someone we go to for provisions.

The biggest clue to all of this is our ten­dency to fill every time of prayer with our own words.  You don’t go to the quar­ter­mas­ter for con­ver­sa­tion.  You come when you’re in need of pro­vi­sions.  You tell him clearly what you need, and he gets it for you.

Many of us com­plain that we do not feel a close con­nec­tion with God; but if we pray as though he were the quar­ter­mas­ter, we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Consider: what if God really is a personal presence in prayer?  What would change in our ways of praying?

Let’s ponder three images of per­sonal con­nec­tion from Scrip­ture.  First, the finale to the journey of Cleopas and friend to the village of Emmaus.  Read Luke 24:28–30.  Jesus makes as if to leave; the dis­ci­ples have to invite him to stay.  When he comes in, he eats and drinks with them, acting as the host.  It’s a beau­ti­ful scene, a close meeting of persons.  But note the role of the dis­ci­ples: invi­ta­tion, and then response as Jesus leads.

Second image, from the letter to the Laodiceans (Rev­e­la­tion 3:14–22).  They are wayward com­pro­mis­ers with society around them, and have the “taste” of the local water: so dis­gust­ing it makes you want to vomit.  But Jesus stands at their door and knocks.  If the Laodiceans let him in they will eat together, again an image of a close and inti­mate meeting of persons, where – of course – Jesus will take the lead, reform­ing them in love.

Third image, from an ancient near eastern love poem (Song of Songs, in 2:9–11).  The Lord is a Lover, running swift and strong over the hills, looking in at us behind our walled and gated prop­erty, calling us to join him in his adven­ture.  The image is almost unbear­ably inti­mate, but has been held by inter­preters over many cen­turies to reflect the kind of rela­tion­ship we have with the Lord, not least in prayer.

Consider: which image strikes home for you, and why?  Which awakes longing in you?

Alone or with others, prac­tice the per­sonal pres­ence of God in prayer.  First, close your eyes and imagine the Lord present as a person.  (Perhaps set up an empty chair, where you can imagine him sitting.)  Have a go at describ­ing what you imagine in prayer: “As I look at you, Lord, I see you as …”.  Then make an invi­ta­tion to the Lord to “come in” to the meeting, and to the “house” of your own self, then wait to see what he will say and do.  At the end, share about the expe­ri­ence together, or journal if by yourself.

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