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Prayer Is A Gift

God would be right in simply issuing us commandments through his word and expecting us to obey them. But he doesn’t do that. He invites us in. And that’s because he wants us to be a part of what he’s doing. Remember, God is not just God; he’s our heavenly Father. And because of that, he gives to us the gift of prayer.

And prayer is such a gift because it gives us the opportunity to express ourselves freely to God. We can bring to him our hardships, our worries. We can bring praises and offerings of thanksgiving—and all that stuff. Through prayer, we get to reveal ourselves to God.

But prayer is also a gift because it gives us some agency, some capacity to participate in the things of God. By praying for certain things, we have the opportunity to direct God’s power and will toward those things that we love. (Now, don’t get carried away here; we’re not issuing God commands or something like that.) But still, God invites us to participate in his redemptive plan through prayer.

And finally, it’s a gift because it’s something that God offers to us freely. We don’t have to earn the right to talk to God or to have him hear our prayers. Instead, God invites us to come to him even and especially when we haven’t lived up to his expectations.

Just think for a moment about the parable of the prodigal son—you know the story. The son asks the father for his inheritance and then he goes to a far-away country and blows it all partying. Then, when he doesn’t have any money left, he comes to his senses and heads back to his father. He’s only going to ask to be a slave; that way he’ll at least be guaranteed something to eat. But Jesus says that the father “when he was a long way off” rushes out to meet the son. He greets him with a hug and a kiss. And then he gives him the signet ring and the family robe, both of which signify that he’s been received back into the family. Jesus says that’s how God receives us when we repent.

Our reception by God—God hearing and receiving our prayers—is a like that. It’s the gift of hospitality— better, the gift of being welcomed into God’s family. And it isn’t a special privilege we get because we’ve earned it. It’s something we receive because he loves us.

Pray with me. Father, thank you that you receive us—not because of what we’ve managed to accomplish or how good we’ve been—but because you love us, and gave your only Son for us. Help us to delight in the gift of prayer, and teach us more about who you are through this prayer. And grant that we would grow in gratefulness and in faith, knowing that you hear us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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