I thrive when I have someone with whom I can process ideas. This has been true all my life – be it my wife, Barb, my kids, fellow co-ministers or co-workers. I have always been at my best when I have been able to process my thoughts and ideas with others. It’s when creativity comes to life for me.
I remember many times meeting various people for coffee to brainstorm solutions to an opportunity, talking over my ideas, and suddenly the solution presents itself in an obvious manner. After our time together, I would thank the person for their assistance in the matter, to which they often responded, “I’m not sure what I did to help. You seemed to figure it out by yourself.” I don’t think I’m the only one to have such experiences. It points to the brilliance and simplicity of Dallas Willard’s description of prayer from his book, The Divine Conspiracy…
I have mentioned Willard’s description of prayer a couple times previous (Pondertude and Practical “Right Things”). I think it is so powerful and revolutionary that it deserves additional consideration. I started reading The Divine Conspiracy about 20 years ago, shortly after publication. It is a dense read, thus I would read a section, pondering for a time before continuing. After reading his treatment of prayer, however, I stopped reading the book altogether, not wanting to miss the significance. As a reminder, Willard described prayer as simply, “Talking to God about what we are doing together” (p. 243). In the book, he went on to say:
That immediately focuses the activity where we are [in our walk with God] but at the same time drives the egotism out of it. Requests will naturally be made in the course of this conversational walk. Prayer is a matter of explicitly sharing with God my concerns about what he too is concerned about in my life. And of course he is concerned about my concerns and, in particular, that my concerns should coincide with his. This is our walk together. Out of it I pray.
I think this is exactly what the Apostle Paul meant when he encouraged the Christians in Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I don’t think Paul made this up – it was certainly modeled by Moses, the writers of the Psalms, the prophets, AND Jesus (see Pondertude).
I suspect prayer is another area in our journey with Jesus that we have made far too difficult and awkward. Talking to God about what we are doing together seems so natural, so simple, and so straight-forward. And revolutionary. It revolutionized my prayer life. May it do so for you as well.