One of the distinct memories I have as a kid was waking up super early and seeing my mom sitting on the couch, spending time with God. She’d be up every morning before the sun came up, holding a cup of coffee, with just the glow of the lamp lighting up the room.
At some point, I realized that there was something about my mom’s relationship with Jesus that was deeply personal and intimate. I began to notice when my mom prayed, powerful stuff happened! I also began to notice when she prayed, it was as if she was talking to a friend.
It was like she had a direct connection with God.
Do you know anyone like this? Perhaps you’ve often wondered how you can truly experience that kind of personal, life-giving, intimate relationship with Jesus.
It begins with prayer.
Prayer is the pathway by which God produces intimacy, oneness, and connection with Him. This is why prayer is so powerful. And why prayer can change us and the world around us.
Yet, we have a lot of misconceptions when it comes to prayer.
We think we need to be super-spiritual, or supernatural people to pray those powerful, life-changing prayers. Or, we know it’s good for us, but it doesn’t feel life-giving or transformative. For others of us, praying can feel uncomfortable and intimidating, so we’d rather just avoid it.
So, how can we as ordinary people bring our ordinary concerns to God and experience Him in a deeply personal way?
And, how can we as ordinary people develop prayer lives that are actually powerful and transformative?
Here are three ways we can do this:
- View prayer as necessary, not just a nice idea.
Prayer should be our first response, not our last resort. In Matthew 6:5, Jesus instructs his disciples on how to pray and starts out by saying, “When you pray…” not, “If you pray.”
There is an expectation that we will have a connection and relationship with God and that we will pray regularly.
We see this expectation even in the life of Jesus. On one of His busiest days, the Bible tells us that Jesus chose to get away and pray.
…crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)
So, if we want to develop intimacy with God, and if we want a prayer life that is powerful, then our view of prayer might need to shift.
2. Set aside a specific time and a sacred space.
We live hurried, busy, rushed lives. But what if we reserved a specific time to meet with God, just like we would with a good friend, or even our spouse or kids?
There’s something powerful about setting a designated time and a sacred space where we can’t be distracted. It could be early, or late, or midday. It could be on your couch, your car, a coffee shop, or even going on a walk or a run.
It doesn’t matter specifically when and where, but it does need to be a time and place where God can have our attention and our focus – even for just a few minutes.
3. Approach God as our heavenly Father who loves us.
When Jesus instructed the disciples how to pray, He referred to God as “Father” three different times,
“Pray to your Father… your Father who sees… and your Father who knows.” (Matthew 6:5-8)
We take this for granted. But in that culture and time, it was scandalous to refer to God as “Father.” God was to be addressed as high, exalted, holy. And that is who He is, but Jesus wants us to call God, our Father, because there is a relational connection that happens when we pray.
Some of us still struggle with this. Some of us pray to an impersonal deity that we feel we have to appease. For others, we have the expectation that God wants to withhold good from us, so we pray in order to get something.
But the truth is that God is a perfect heavenly Father who loves us and who knows us.
We can be confident that when we pray, we come as a completely accepted, fully loved, cherished daughters or sons of a heavenly Father who delights to hear our voice and give us good gifts.
For more on how to cultivate practices to help you grow in intimate relationship with Jesus, join Chip Ingram in the series Sacred Rhythms.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip