Growing in Christ Day 3: Developing Our Communication – Talking to God
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6, ESV)
Although we experience pangs of nostalgia and sadness, we also feel pride when we see our children becoming increasingly independent. Many of you have watched your children grow from being completely dependent on you to being completely independent—married, living in their own home, and earning their own money. I’m not there yet, but it’s on the horizon. And while thinking about it can cause me to stare off into space and get a little mopey, I know deep down that it’s a good thing. As they get older, they shouldn’t need us for everything.
I’m not sure it happens in the same way, but if Jesus looked contemplatively at our lives as we grow older, He would not be proud if He saw us growing independent of Him. It’s actually the exact opposite. As we grow in our relationship with Him, we should grow more dependent on Him. Part of this is manifested in our communication with Him in prayer. It’s our side of the communication equation—us talking to Him.
As we get older, we experience more stress from added responsibilities and pressures from every side. And while we may be increasingly independent from our parents, we should be increasingly dependent on God. In our passage above, Paul steers us away from trying to deal with things ourselves and becoming anxious. Instead, he tells us to bring “everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving… to God.” I think that word “everything” is very significant. If we want to grow in our relationship with Christ, there needs to be that recognition in our hearts that He wants to hear everything we are dealing with. He wants to hear about our struggles (prayer), our needs (supplication), and our triumphs (thanksgiving). Yes, He wants to hear all of it. The closer we grow to another person, the more likely we are to open up to them. It’s the same in our relationship with Him; the more we share with Him, the closer we’ll become to Him. When we unburden ourselves to other people, we can experience a sense of peace. But when we unburden ourselves before the Lord, we are able to tap into the peace He gives us.
Our communication with Him will vary depending on what is happening in our lives. When we are especially low, our prayers may sound like lamentations. When we are burdened for the needs of others, our prayers may sound, well, needy. And that’s okay! In our relationship with God we are needy! And when life is going especially well, our prayers may be filled with thankfulness. This is all fine! The point is to bring it all before Him. We claim He is our friend, so we should back that up in our communication with Him. We should be honest with Him, too, when our hearts are burdened and our spirits are drowning. True growth in our relationship with Christ will be manifested in our honesty when we speak privately with Him.
I think growth is also manifested in the overall content of our prayers. How much time do I spend praying for others, even people I don’t like or agree with? This cultivates growth because it gets to the core of what should characterize my prayer life: thinking about someone other than myself. And maybe that’s why prayer can be such an unpopular thing to participate in. Maybe that’s why prayer meetings tend to be much smaller than other church meetings. For a fixed period of time, we think about the needs of others. In a selfish society, it’s a practice that becomes more and more detached from the norm. But what a blessing it can be in my own life as it draws me closer to Jesus. After all, His life was devoted to the needs of others at every turn. Why shouldn’t mine?