Last week I posted a snippet from devotional giant Oswald Chambers, who encouraged us to use our imaginations to put ourselves before God. This week I’m going to show you how to do that.
Imagination and prayer: Start with the WHO.
First of all, the power and richness of your prayer life depends on your picture of God. Who is it that you think you’re approaching? What does he ‘look’ like? Sound like? Act like?
When I encourage you to use your imagination here, I’m not saying, “Make something up. Whatever you want!” Not at all. I mean that if you picture God as a miserly judge, that will seriously damage your prayer life. If you view him as Santa Claus during the off season, you’ve got serious issues as well.
The question is, what (or whom) does the Bible tell us to picture when we pray? An imagination captured by God’s revelation is powerful. But where do we begin? I mean, God really is the Judge. He’s creator. He’s holy. He’s loving. He’s the healer, he’s Jesus Christ, he’s the Holy Spirit, he’s our Guide, King, Lord, Shepherd, and the Light of the World. Do we just pick one and go with that?
Jesus would say no. When the disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he said, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’”
Some have read this as a rule, like Jesus is forbidding people to pray to the Holy Spirit or even to him personally. But this misses the point. Jesus tells us to pray to the Father for our benefit, not his. He knows that only when we approach God as daddy will we pray with the adoration, confidence, and hope he wants from us.
When you pray, it’s Daddy.
When you surrender to him, he’s King. When you obey, he’s Lord. When he heals you, he’s your great Physician. When you follow him, he’s your Shepherd. When you worship him, he’s the Holy One. When you need an intervention, he’s the Lord of Hosts. But when you pray, Jesus says, he’s Father. Abba. Daddy.
The Daddy who loves to give good gifts to his children. The Father of heavenly lights who lavishes his love on us, cares for us, and adopts us into his eternal family. The patient mentor, who’s discipline reaps a harvest of righteousness and peace in our lives. The father of compassion and comfort. That father.
Jesus is saying, “I want you to see prayer as profoundly intimate and special. Yes, you come before the throne of glorious and almighty God. But you pray from a posture of total acceptance and welcome. I want you to see that you pray not as a man or woman, as a leader or manager or scholar, slave or free, winner or loser, but as a child in daddy’s lap—with all the simple trust and sublime delight that implies.
If you pray to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, it will be difficult to imagine him being interested in the little things in your life. But when you pray to your Daddy, you know he relishes every word and wants to hear all about it.
So go pray. To your Daddy.