prayer is an egg salad finger sandwich. huh??? well, think about it a moment. an egg salad finger sandwich is a delicious morsel that satisfies and yet leaves one wanting more. that’s the whole point of a good canapé. it’s exactly the same with real prayer, something delicious that satisfies the need to connect with the One who calls us into being, yet leaves us wanting more – more conversation, where we listen more then we speak; more nourishment, where we enter more deeply into the mystery of communion.
now i’m talking about real prayer. not the laundry list of petitions for things wanted or dreams to be realized, with an occasional addendum of thanksgivings for things received or dreams manifested. nor am i speaking of prayer as a recitation of pretty words printed in a prayer book.
real prayer is about presence. real prayer is about surrendering to the Spirit and thereby developing a consciousness of God’s presence in the here and now, and in the always and everywhere . the more conscious we become of God’s presence in our lives at every moment, the more prayer facilitates personal growth and spiritual maturity. the more we come to realize God’s active and personal presence in our lives, the more we desire to live our lives in accordance with God’s will.
think about what Jesus taught on prayer in the gospels of matthew and luke. when his disciples inquired about how they should pray, Jesus responded “pray in this way” and gave us the guide to prayer that has become enshrined as “the Lord’s prayer”. the prayer differs somewhat between matthew and luke, which i think is testament to Jesus offering the prayer as a model for how to pray rather then a dictate as to what to say. nevertheless, in both cases Jesus begins the prayer with the word “Abba”.
Abba is an aramaic expression which is typically translated as “Father”, but as any bible scholar will tell you, Abba is an informal term of endearment more akin to “daddy” or “papa” or “baba”. the whole essence of prayer is summed up in that one word “Abba”, because prayer is the practice of being conscious of the One who is always present and loves you wholly, without reservation.
the experience of real prayer is like when you were a young child and climbed up onto your parent’s lap, embraced in caring arms, and you just rested securely in the knowledge that you were loved. that’s exactly what real prayer is, it’s about growing in the knowledge that you have a deep intimate relationship with God; climbing up onto God’s lap, resting in God’s hug, and knowing you are loved, to which you might respond with adoring eyes “I love you Abba”, and God lovingly replies “another canapé my little one”.