Looking For A Pay-out! (ATP) 

How do you keep prayer from being simply transactional… how do you press in to know Him? There can be so much focus on being “skillful” in prayer, formulas, being “effective”. I want to know how to ditch that all and have a relationship that’s alive with my Father.

The easiest answer is by not making it transactional. One way is to stop looking for steps to do it effectively and that by seeing prayer for what it is, loving communication.

This is not just our own fault. We are or were people who don’t know and somehow we have to find out. When we listen to well meaning teachers on the subject they often offer us a lot of prayer secrets or rules. The truth is, relationship is not something you can really teach by another person. I have seen many relationships that are good over the years, but I have never seen two that are the same. Each relationship is built based on the personalities of the two involved, never just one. Sure you can give principles, but ultimately it comes down to figuring each other out.

We are given a lot about God’s character in the Bible. So much that even if you have never seen an example of good character, you can at least read about what healthy looks like. We see a lot in the New Testament about freedom. This is not accidental. Although there is a lot in scripture about prayer, there isn’t a lot of instruction on how exactly to do it. So think about it like this: if you met someone you want to get to know more, what would you do? You might try everything and anything!

When I met my wife, I knew I had to connect with her. The bummer to me was, I knew nothing about her. No likes or dislikes to manipulate, I didn’t even know if we would be compatible. Yet, twenty years later here we are. We had each had relationships in the past but you know what I quickly realized? None of them would help me here because this was totally new, uncharted territory. My wife and I, if we were to build a life together, needed to figure it out by ourselves. In fact, I didn’t even ask the opinions of others because I knew they couldn’t understand what I was feeling. 

God doesn’t want repeat relationships with His people. He wants them as individual as those whom He has them with. Yes, the Bible gives us guidelines to right and wrong and yes it tells us about His character to help guide us rightly. However, the only way to know the Father is to spend time with Him. One way we are going to have to do this is by thinking and acting outside of the box.

I want you to look at Ephesians 6:18 (NIV) which says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Notice it says all kinds of prayer but never defines what kinds of prayer are prayer. We have to start seeing prayer outside of the box. When we see the phrase “in the Spirit” I think we sometimes fail to understand what that means. Another way of saying this would be, by means of the Spirit.

God gave us His Holy Spirit at our new birth and He is called teacher. Part of what He does is guide us. To pray in the Spirit, or by the Spirit, is to pray in such a way that you seek Him to help you and endeavor to follow. Praying can look like all kinds of things. It can be saying things you know and it can be in saying things you don’t. Sometimes it can be groaning, weeping, or singing. Sometimes prayer can be your laughter and sometimes it can be absolutely silent, unable to speak anything at all. Sometimes prayer can just be your thoughts (you don’t think God can hear what you think?). The emphasis was never about what it always is, but who it is always directed to. Prayer, in its simplest form is communication between you and God. How that looks, well, you will have to be led.

But what if you have no leading per se? Did you know desire can be a leading? Do you really think we have anything good at all without Him? If you’re contemplating you might want to, that is desire! Think back to my story about my wife and I. If I want the conversation bad enough, I’ll find a way. To keep it from being transactional don’t look at God as a vending machine and your prayer being your quarter. Go to Him because you want to know Him. Tell Him that. Sure, if you need something ask Him, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to know Him, you will have to do more than ask. Maybe you will serenade Him. Maybe you will laugh with Him or maybe you will cry. Whatever it is, seek Him to help you.

One last thing. God wants this more than you do, He will not hold back. Trust Him, yes even in prayer and He will help you and draw you in. Do not rely on others for what only He can show you.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NIV)

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff