Prayer is a Happy Place


“Let us pray” is not a call for sad eyes and frowning faces, shuffling feet or sweaty palms. Entering the presence of God with the thought, “How am I going to explain this?” is not the aim. Prayer should not be treated as merely a confessional for the wrongs we’ve done and filled with apologies for not being God’s “little angels.” Could you imagine being in a relationship with someone who was always talking about their shortcomings?

“Hi. How are you? “Hey. I am such an awful person. Please forgive me.”

Or, that began with a to do list? “Good morning.” “Yeah. Before I get out of bed, I need you to….”

Likewise, the conversation is not with a red-faced God whose been waiting to tell you a thing or two. While there is much biblical support for entering the presence of God with “fear and trembling”—with “awe and reverence” in other interpretations—prayer is not corporate punishment. We are not bracing ourselves for a tongue-lashing. Talking to God is nothing to be afraid of.

Besides, what would be the goal of prayer if only to talk about what we’ve done wrong or what could be improved upon? Surely, the work of Christ is rendered ineffective in such exchanges and our new life in him should give us more to talk about.

And there is more that God wants to hear from us. If we need proof for the call to elaborate, we need only look to the Psalms. None of these writers hold back. They don’t murmur their complaints or whisper their praises. The gamut of human experiences and expressions are found here. Prayer is not merely telling God all about our troubles but telling God about our day.

Timothy Keller writes, “Prayer is our way of entering into the happiness of God.” Called to “pray without ceasing,” Keller’s words speak to a place of unending delight and of a God who has no desire to avoid our conversations (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is a return to Eden, to uninterrupted communion and life, before our words failed us.

Yes, prayer is a happy place. So, let us pray and giggle. God wants in on the joke too.

Let us pray and gush. This is not a call to hide or hush our humanity, but to join in the conversation that includes not just the bending but the slapping of our knees and the shedding tears of joy.

smcneillReverend Starlette Thomas* is an associate 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 Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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