Jesus tells us to pray. However, a sister in Christ asked me ‘What is the point of prayer if God is just going to do what he wants to do anyway?’ It’s a good question.
Jesus tells us to pray, and that alone might be a good enough reason to do it. But Jesus doesn’t ask us to do things that don’t have a purpose. He talked about prayer a lot and he prayed a lot. And, for Jesus, prayer wasn’t just about asking for things. When Jesus prayed, the beloved son was in deep conversation with his loving Father. So, when we read about Jesus praying, we get a glimpse into the very special love relationship that exists between the Son and the Father.
This relationship between Jesus and the Father is so outside our normal human experience that it is difficult, perhaps impossible, for us to fully grasp what it is. Jesus tells us that he and the Father are one (John 14:8-11). Jesus also tells us that he is in the Father and the Father is in him and (here’s the amazing bit) we are invited to join in too and (here’s the even more amazing bit) when we join in, the effect is going to be that the world will be convinced that God sent Jesus (John 17:20-21).
When we pray we are taking our first steps into joining this indescribable relationship. It is very difficult to even begin to understand a relationship that is so outside our human experience. It seems impossible to imagine what communication in that relationship might be like. So, let’s talk about something that we can grasp. Let’s talk about communion (and I’m not talking about the sacrament we celebrate in our services). I googled the word “communion” and the first definition I got was “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual level”: That’s a good definition of what “communion” means. When we love someone we want to share thoughts and feelings with them. We want to be intimate with them. In other words, we want to be in communion with them. Prayer is being in communion with God. It is sharing thoughts and feelings with God. It is being intimate with God. It is loving God in practice.