“I just want to be close, God. I really miss you. I miss feeling you near me. And I know prayer is the way to do that, to get close… but I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong. And why would you listen to me anyway? You’ve already planned out what you’re going to do, and what’s going to happen next. You’re already moving in the world, quietly present behind the scenes— I believe that! So, if all that’s true, why would you bother listening to me? Or better yet, why do you ask me to pray when nothing I say ultimately matters? Why pray? And, what if I get the prayer wrong? What if I just reinforce selfish desires inside me? I don’t know how to talk to you!”

That’s the dialogue —the drama really— that unfolds in my heart whenever I sit down to pray. Sometimes I sit down wanting to pray for something specific, but more often I just want to get close to God, or at least feel close to Him. But those questioning words, and the feelings behind them, have become familiar. And the funny thing is, they didn’t use to be. I remember a time when I could just pray. I would talk to God about anything and everything. About the algebra test I just took that I was sure slaughtered me. About my love for the colors on a particular day. Or even just that I missed Him and wanted to feel His closeness. I don’t know what happened, but somewhere between now and then, I stopped praying to Him like that. I stopped talking to Him. It’s really disappointing because my deep awareness right now is of how much I miss Him, feel the distance between us, and how unsure I am of how to fix it. Yet the solution that He keeps putting in front of me is simply: pray.

I picked up Richard Fosters’ book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home just looking for some guidance, and, just in the introduction, found he is speaking right to where I am. From the start, Foster takes the focus of prayer off purposefully affecting some kind of change in the world, or praying correctly. Rather, he starts by saying that “[God] is inviting you —and me— to come home…to that for which we were created… to serenity and peace and joy, home to friendship and fellowship and openness, home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation.”[1] He speaks of prayer, not as some religious mandate, but of the simplest form of “intimacy, where we know and are known to the fullest”.[2] An invitation from God to simply be close. It’s that invitation, and the posture of God that goes along with it, that I often forget. But it is that simple togetherness that the Lord invites us into and desires.

It’s like that story in the gospels when the children come running up to Jesus, but the disciples hold them back thinking that Jesus had no time for such things. But Jesus replies “Let the little children come to me…”[3] He saw their simplicity, their runny noses and scraped knees, their utter un-put-togetherness, and smiled. He welcomed them to come and sit with him. It’s that same welcome he extends to us. To come sit with him and be loved by him. That’s what prayer is, coming to Jesus to simply be.


[1] Richard J. Foster, Prayer : Finding the heart’s true home, 1st ed. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 1.

[2] Foster, Prayer : Finding the heart’s true home, 1.

[3] Matthew 19:14, NET Bible.


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