Prayer: From “I Should” to “I Want to”

I had a wonderful experience recently in my walk with Jesus. But first let me give you the background.

Religion is the enemy of relationship with Jesus. Habits, rituals and social expectations cloak, often well-meaning, our understanding of what it is like to relate to our precious creator. I am no different from Joe Six-pack in this regard. I was brought up with a Sunday church-going ritual that meant very little to me. It was the habit of my parents, neither of which modeled any form of Christianity in the home.

When I came to faith and relationship in Jesus in the mid 1970’s as an impressionable teenager, it was into an early Pentecostal form of the faith, strong on pietism and performance, church attendance ad nauseam was THE sign of spirituality! The more you did what was expected, the more spiritual you were.

It was with my journey into simple church that I finally broke free of these expectations and began to concentrate on a spirituality that focussed on relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But a lifetime of expectations is hard to toss. Time and again I have found myself settling into a habit of prayer where I do so because it is the right thing to do, an obligation that a good Christian does. Time and again Jesus shakes me out of these habits of the mind…

On a drive to Brisbane a week ago I had one of those precious awakenings. I began the drive thinking, “well, I have an hour to kill getting to the city, I should pray, it’s the right thing to do, more “righteous” than listening to the radio.”  So I began…only to find in an instant this emotional resistance, a guilt, a burden and a resentment. Resentment, because I was doing something I didn’t want to do. Prayer had degenerated back into a ritual and it annoyed me.

So I did something about it. I stopped pretending and started being honest with Jesus, complaining about the state of my heart and asking what was the true state of the problem between us.

After a few minutes of honesty and complaint a very strange thing happened. My spiritual eyes were opened completely to a realm I had forgotten about. The realm of the majesty of God my creator. A surging realisation gripped my soul from out of the blue, a new wave of understanding of my unique relationship with him. Simply put it was a realisation that I was the luckiest man on the planet, because I had the privilege of talking directly, face to face with the creator of the universe, the maker of everything, the maker of me. It was awesome and liberating. It blew my mind for a good twenty minutes, and has wonderfully informed my prayer ever since.

Gone now is the guilt, the ritual and the habit of prayer. Earnest desire to get time with Jesus has replaced reluctance. I take off for my hour walk whenever I can now just as an excuse to pray and enjoy the privilege of being with him. I am hearing his whisper once again. yeah! I am confident in the righteousness he has given me, instead of doubting the righteousness I was trying to earn.

Its easy now, and fun…I want to pray and have a new-found burdon for those that don’t know him or this deep privilege. And if you are stuck in the rut I was in, try an honest conversation with Jesu, stop pretending like I did.