We highlighted last week that a simple definition of prayer is communion or communication with God in which we talk to God and He, in turn, talks to us. If our prayer is to be meaningful and ultimately lead us to God’s Will and the serenity to abide in Him with unflinching trust in Divine purpose and goodwill, it will be necessary to start it by listening to God.
In our milieu, characterised by chaotic prayers, noisy preaching, and disordered activities, beginning prayer with silence or quietness, in meditation, with the aim of hearing from God, will be obviously odd.
The truth is that rushing to God with our problems and desires distorts our appreciation of God’s dealings with us. This will lead to skyjacking the conversation, thereby imposing ourselves and desires on Him.
We listen to God by meditation and contemplation on His words and works as written in the Bible, evident in His Creation and activities in this world and in our lives. Contemplation entails resting in God’s presence and opening oneself to the ‘still, small voice.’ (1Kgs 19:11-13). It does not only bring us to hear from God, but also accord us the opportunity of speaking to Him according to His will. “…The Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groaning, which cannot be uttered… He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:26-27).
It is when one contemplates on God that He can truly bow in worship and adoration. It is when he thinks that he thanks. It is when he beholds the Holiness of God that he sees his own unworthiness and humbles himself in penitence. And so, when he presents his needs, he truly trusts not only the omnipotence but also the omniscience of God and lives with assurance of His omnipresence. That is when he comes to the level of daily communion with God.
This is what it means to pray without ceasing. It starts with listening to God and continues with moving with Him.
• The Ven. (Dr) Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com