Our Prayer Language


We trust God. Of course, we do. We fold our hands and we don’t ever try to raise them to interject our point of view. “Listen God, I’ve been thinking and….” We dare not say a prayer and then intercept. No, God is in control.

We bow our knees not because they are going to buckle or are growing weak. We have no desire to pace the floor. No, we can “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13). Because it’s not like we could sneak a peek.

And we have no interest in seeing how things are going to turn out anyway. We never want to check on God and see if God needs some help. Looking towards heaven, we don’t want to ask, “What’s going on up there?” That would be silly, and we are too mature to behave this way. We have prayed about it and that’s that.

We speak of prayer as if it satisfies our doubts and somehow straightens us out, that one “little talk with Jesus” works out all the kinks in our belief system. This could not be farther from the truth. Instead, prayer is its own classroom and the tongue is a teacher. Though we enter prayer with an idea of what we want to say or ask for, we exit with revelations about self and soul that we cannot account for. Our communications in prayer are self-disclosing and Self-disclosing.

Yes, communication is key in any relationship and our relationship with God is no different. If we are to understand who God is to us and who we are to God, then we will need to pray. On the other hand, if it is our intention to remain strangers who pass each other on Sunday mornings, then don’t pray. Zip your lips and the heavens become mere slits. Prayer opens things up, seen and unseen, said and unsaid.

This is why it is not a matter of repetition or even a schedule. Instead, pray nonstop. Tell God anything and everything. Say whatever comes to mind and share with God what has been on your mind. Tell God all about it. Open up.

A relationship with God is not one that can be maintained by secondhand experiences. And while God has an extensive vocabulary, God is not going to do all the talking. Give and take—it is going to take us chiming in, less we lie when we say we love God. Noisy gong, our prayers do nothing more than keep up a racket if they are offered apart from our feelings. Prayer is not mere lip service. Prayer is its own language.

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is the interim pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland and the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at www.racelessgospel.com. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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