Together in Prayer

As I scroll through my twitter feed I am keenly aware that the spiritual discipline of prayer is trending. With Tim Keller’s new book on prayer and the requests for prayers that include the Ebola outbreak, the Ferguson trial, or efforts to build wells in Africa, I am once again reminded that Christians are called to be people of prayer. I am grateful for the people of prayer that I have witnessed and ministered alongside of. They have taught me what it means to pray while challenging my own fledgling prayer life. Which begs the question, why is prayer so difficult? I am sure I am not the only one who has struggled with the discipline of prayer. 
On the outside prayer seems like the greatest and easiest way to come to know God. We are able to talk to God, the God of the universe. The mere fact that our God is listening and wants to hear from us is baffling. Then Jesus reassures us that not only is God listening, He is working and our prayers will be answered if we only would pray. If that weren’t enough motivation, Paul tells us that the Spirit, God’s Holy Spirit, will see us through during times of difficulty in prayer changing our groanings into declarations and proclamations for the Father to hear.
But again, why is prayer so difficult? Maybe the simple answer is sin. In the garden when Adam and Eve sinned, the lone temptation that the satan figure used was the desire to be like God if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Turns out that desire to be like God is still a temptation today. Why pray when we can be masters of our own life, gods if you will. Everyone knows that prayer is an act of considerable humility and submission that goes against everything in our western culture. 
So how do we (maturing Christians mind you) navigate through this life while dedicating ourselves to God in prayer? An easy (bad) option is to pray like you were taught as a child giving God your “big list” every night or every morning, but this is mediocre at best, if not heretical, believing that God is just waiting for our lists. In prayer He is waiting for me. I think this is the area I have struggled with the most. Giving God all of me. We should understand that prayer is more than asking God for help, healing, or happiness. Sure there is time and space for those requests, but the foundation of prayer is not built on those. 
I consider prayer as an act of grace founded on God’s desire to be in relationship with us. The story of the Bible is God’s plan to be in a relationship with his creation. God always initiates. God always comes down. He came down in the garden. He came down in the cloud. He came down in the pillar of fire. He came down in his temple. He even came down while in exile. He came down most vulnerable in Jesus. God dwells with us. And he is coming down supremely once again. God always wants to be in relationship with us. And He is extremely patient with us as we seek out  opportunities to be in community with Him, with his people, and with outsiders who He longs for us to welcome in. Prayer is God’s act of grace beckoning us unto Him.
As I reflect upon this mystery, I personalize it for my situation. I am a 30 year-old white, middle class North American working as a church planter in Arequipa, Peru. Our team longs to see God’s Kingdom manifested and expanded here as we learn, serve, and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. That will not happen unless prayer somehow and in someway becomes foundational to what we do here. As individuals, as families, as a team, and as churches of Christ we must be people of prayer. So, we pray. Not to be heard by God or to ask for something. We pray to be with God, to commune with the Father. We listen, we reflect, while he convicts and transforms us more into the image of Christ. And in that silence, we come to see and experience the God who is here.