I love the thought of prayer as a conversation with God. Does it inform you that God is all about relationship? 'Love God with all you got and your neighbor as yourself' ... this is the greatest commandment. And the Acts 2 church was doing all they could to nurture, develop and grow their relationship with God and with one another. Prayer is a foundation for this intentional relational tool. Why?
One reason is that when we pray for each other we become connected. Our life and the life of the person we are praying for become closer and more meaningful. We, as Galatians 2 says, 'carry' each other's burdens. And when we do that our relational connection becomes more evident and more meaningful. Our life and the life of the other person overlap and in that overlap I believe God can work wonders. The early Church prayed for one another.
Another reason prayer is relational is that prayer is often a means of thanksgiving. When I pray for a person having surgery I pray for the person, the procedure and for God's healing. But I also pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the skill of the doctor, the gift of medicine and God's amazing ability to do far more than any medical procedure ever could. When we share in a spirit of thanksgiving, God is close by!
A third reason prayer is relational is it connects to God's image. Biblically God is compassionate. Jesus wept for Jerusalem and for His friend Lazarus. God expresses hurt for the people He created and even in the midst of our sin God is already offering a way of forgiveness. Maybe the most compassionate statement in the Bible is when Jesus says, "Forgive them for they know not what they do!" Jesus, on the cross, is already speaking on our behalf for our forgiveness and re-connection to God.
Finally, that conversational thing again. If we love ... if we care ... if we are involved in life with someone, we converse with them. How would it work if you treated a friend like you treat God? What if every time I went to my friend I gave him a list of things I needed him to do? How would that work? But what if you had a 2-way conversation with that friend. You just talked about stuff, life and dreams. Might that work a little better?
I hope these ramblings stir you to do what the early Church did ... interact with each other and with God. I think it might do what one person said when they said that prayer doesn't change God but it changes us. Good advice! Randy