Why Prayer (1)?
May the grace and peace from our risen Lord be with you.
It is now October! The beautiful season of fall is with us. The sky is clear and blue, and trees are beginning to change their clothes. Soon we will see colorful autumn leaves. The churches are in the season of Charge Conferences and preparing for the next year. I hope this season will be a time to discern anew the vision of our Lord for the church and recommit ourselves to God and our mission.
This month I will lead the Pilgrimage for Spiritual Renewal one more time. Thirty-four clergy from our conference will visit South Korea from October 19 to 26 and take part in this continuing education program. This journey has a very busy schedule beginning with an early morning prayer service at 5 a.m. We will visit various churches and learn ministry based on strong prayer. Your prayer for our safe and meaningful trip will be deeply appreciated.
Starting this month, I will write for the next couple of months about why prayer is important with the title of “Why Prayer?” I hope and pray that my article will help the churches and the people called United Methodists to rediscover our praying knees. Now is truly a time to pray for ourselves and for the churches.
Why prayer? First of all, prayer is the essence and foundation of our faith. Being a Christian is more than becoming a better person. Being a Christian is more than doing some good works. Being a Christian is more than a culture and more than having knowledge about God. Having knowledge about God is important, but this is not enough.
We believe in a living God revealed in Scripture, especially in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The God in whom we believe is still alive. Being a Christian means having a relationship with this living God. If our faith remains as only information or knowledge about God, our relationship with God will be “I and it.” But, if we have a fellowship with this living God, our relationship with God will be “I and Thou (You).” Prayer is about this relationship with our living God.
The essence of our faith is about the restoration of our relationship with God. Because of our sinfulness, our relationship with God had been broken, and we had been separated from God. Jesus Christ came to us and did a ministry of reconciliation with God and with each other. By dying on the cross and rising from the dead, Jesus opened the door for us to go to our God. Our relationship with God was restored, and now we can pray to God as children of God and call God, “Abba,” which means father.
In prayer, our true self will be restored. Being created in the image of God has various meanings. One of the interpretations understands the image of God in terms of our relationship with God. So, restoration of our relationship with God means restoration of our true self which was created to live in relationship with God. Prayer is not an additional thing we need to do. Prayer is an expression of our true self and a very natural thing for God’s children. This is the reason that prayer is more than asking some favors from God. This is the reason that our prayer should be more than just saying “hello” to God a couple of times at our dinner table.
In prayer, we know our God better and deeper. In the Bible, especially to the Hebrew people, to “know” meant more than having knowledge about a person. To “know” means having experiential knowledge which comes from an intimate relationship. So, to “know” God means having a relationship with God, and this is all about prayer. Without prayer, we cannot know our God better and deeper.
Prayer will change our lives. In prayer, we will know God deeper and be more sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In prayer, we will grow to be more obedient to God. In prayer, we will get strength to live a life as children of God. In prayer, we will truly experience the joy and grace which come from our Lord. In prayer, we will find a way to respond to the challenges we face today as Christians. So, why not prayer?
Young Jin Cho