In the quiet place
A friend of mine has two children who can only see their daddy under supervision. Because he might possibly hurt them, someone has to watch how he handles them, and listen to what he says to them. The children need protecting, but it’s difficult to build an effective relationship under that scrutiny.
It may also be one reason why celebrity relationships fail – they are too much under the public gaze. We seem to need quiet privacy for a relationship to flourish. That’s where love, reliability, honesty and trust can grow. The children’s father might proclaim to the world at large how much he loves his kids, but he failed to demonstrate that at home when he had the chance.
In our culture, no one is particularly tempted to go standing on a street corner, praying out loud. It’s just not cool! Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of doing that in Matthew 6:5-8. But he told his listeners to pray in a quiet, private place and talk to their heavenly Father. And you don’t need to keep babbling, repeating the same requests – that’s just not necessary, as God knows what you need even before you ask – just like any good earthly father. What’s really important, is not the talking, but building relationship. That place where we learn that God is loving, reliable, honest and trustworthy, and where we can become like him, secure in his love.
You may be proclaiming to all how much God has done for you – which is great by the way. Your neighbours may see you going to church with your bible tucked under your arm. Fine. Your colleagues may observe you working diligently, never uttering a bad word. Excellent. You may be doing all the right things, but when did you last tell your heavenly Father how much you love him? Do you regularly curl up into Daddy’s lap and just enjoy being with him? Too often we rush into prayer, give God a list of all our requests, and rush off again, without giving him a chance to tell us what is on his heart. Prayer is about spending quality time with God, sharing what’s on your heart, and listening for his response and promptings. The power of prayer is in the relationship, not the asking. Tell him you love him, and listen to his reply. Enjoy!