“If we do not spend ourselves daily in intercession, the Lord may indeed be in our hearts, but we are not allowing Him to live His Life in us, because intercession is what He is always doing.” John Sandford in Healing the Nations.
“Progress in prayer is arrived at by this theological telescoping in which The Mediator and I become one…my prayer is now more His than my own.” Thomas Merton from “A Theology of Prayer”
It’s funny to write about prayer. It’s a bit like Van Gogh painting his own bedroom! When we think about what prayer is, we must enter it. We must go into that inner chamber between The Son and The Father which is always there. So this is a type of invitation to enter into the prayer space-Jesus’ bedroom, even as we talk about it. Jesus was always asking people to live from and in The Kingdom, but to invite others, He often had to talk about the kingdom. There are always these: “from” versus “about”- ways of knowing. Since He lives in us, we are able to live from His Life, but also talk about it!
I want to talk about prayer as a form of intimacy with Jesus, and who He is currently, in His relationship with His Father. Not just how He prayed while on earth-which we overhear in scripture-but how He is praying today!
When we pray, we often think about bringing our needs to Him, but I want to suggest that it is even higher when we enter His Needs and Desires, and ongoing intercessions! He is talking on our behalf to His Father, hourly, and when we enter that space between them, we are entering a higher rung of prayer and communion—the privileged echelons of their relationship! Their private conversations.
Our needs matter, but His are something else. When we enter His-that’s where we are praying in Jesus Name, and with His Authority. Prayer is a funny thing—in some sense, it is us stopping what we are doing, and tuning into what He is doing! We tune into Him, as He tunes into us. We bring Him our needs, and He begins to reveal His. As we pray His from His concerns, we enter His Authority.
So in some sense, it is for us. But in another sense, it is something He desires that we commune with Him in. Prayer is a way of getting to know who Jesus actually is now. What He is up to, thinking about, considering, focusing on.
So, when we pray, what are we really doing?
I think we are approaching Jesus as Priest, and communioning with Him-getting to know Him in this part of His Life and activity. We are getting to know Him in this part of His real life. What He does all the time, is intercede and intervene. So, we get to see and feel and think His Heart towards the matter at hand. As all our activities are a way of knowing and therefore loving Him, prayer perhaps is the highest spiritual activity we can be involved in. It is us, overhearing, bearing with, being intimate with His Personal highest concerns.
We get involved in the most intimate space between The Son and His Father. In this, it is the highest gateway into His Being. And it is the place, all our other activities issue from. In this sense, a person cannot minister at all, without first entering His Prayer Life.
So when we pray, we are entering His Personal garden with The Father. We start to see, feel and think what they are dialoguing about together. We start to note the tone of their exchange. And as we enter their conversation, we ourselves are transformed! Prayer transforms us by proximity!
Prayer gives us access to the tone between Jesus and His Father. This tone carries the type of conversation they are constantly having. Just as tone reveals so much of the meaning in poetry or even in scriptures, so the tone of Jesus conversation with The Father reveals the nature and meaning of their relationship; and their unique identities with one another. Prayer gives us living access to God’s tone of communication, which reveals more of who He and The Father actually are. To know and love God is the highest mitzphah, the peak of the commands Jesus offers on how to live.
Why? Because, because in prayer, we are extremely near the most intimate space between The Son and The Father! We are listening to what Jesus has on His Heart, and His tone of sharing it, and when we do, we are more changed-even morphed-into His Image. We ourselves start to express in their tone. This is why prayer comes before prophecy. If we are not speaking our messages in God’s tone, we really are just spouting knowledge, and misrepresenting The Father. All real ministry, comes after prayer.
Not that prayer is entirely selfish—i.e. for just our growth. But that is a fruit of truly entering in. His ways are higher than ours, and this prayer aspect is the nucleus of all His other activities! You see this, even while Jesus was on earth! So when we enter that center of exchange between Him and Father, we are altered.
Prayer becomes a practice of transformation!
Now, another aspect of prayer, is realizing His personal concern for our own needs. That is very important also. We need to know, just how engaged He truly is for us personally and all the things in our personal hearts. He is overtly concerned in love for our daily concerns! However, the deeper we go in His Spirituality, the more we are astounded how much vaster, deeper and with more profound Love, He is engaging—not just with what we are concerned with, but with all of His Creation!
Prayer, in the end, is about intimacy, and expansion. Expanding our spiritual capacity to hold more of His. By praying, we enter His intimacy with The Father, and thereby, ours with Him. It is the most basic practice we are invited into in this life. There is no higher activity for us. Everything, begins in prayer.
When we truly pray, we are overhearing, overseeing, and over feeling the most intimate space between The Son and The Father. We are watching and entering how Jesus and His Father interact, and what their most intimate concerns are. We are being allowed into their garden or bedroom. It’s Holy Space between them, and, this is why prayer is such a sacred privilege to enter into!
To be in union with this rarefied space constantly, is to pray without ceasing. To be aware of God and His ongoing conversation with humanity through His Son Jesus. This is what we talk about, when we talk about prayer. Prayer is intimacy with God in His most intimate space. It is the Holy of Holies in Him.
If we are serious about wanting to know and live from Jesus, we will want to dwell often in this space of His Prayer Life. For prayer is the way to intimacy with God. It was Jesus way, while on earth, and still is. So it must also become, our way. A life of prayer, is a life of growing intimacy with The Father through His relationship with The Son. And this is what we talk about, when we talk about prayer.