Imagine if you were born into a family where no one related to each other on an intimate level – ever. Of course, food, shelter, and clothing are provided but with the least possible contact. There was no touching, no singing, no stories being read, no rocking to sleep, and no eye contact.
A horrified world learned the effects of such a system in the late 1980s and early 1990s when news reports exposed the hidden shame of Romania. For decades, thousands of Romanian children were placed in overcrowded orphanages. Their so-called caregivers were untrained, unsupervised, over-worked, and incredibly outnumbered by their charges. Gross abuse was rampant; neglect was the norm. Seldom were babies fed while in the arms of a nurse. Instead, workers propped up their bottles on pillows. Lonely, frightened children learned to comfort themselves by rocking back and forth in their cribs for hours at a time. They rejected the world that rejected them. The vast majority of these institutionalised children developed long-term behavioural issues.
Even after being adopted, children had problems forming attachments to their new parents. These adoptive parents did not know how long-lasting the negative effects of being neglected would be. Some children never recovered.
“According to attachment theory, an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for the child’s successful social and emotional development, and in particular, for learning how to regulate their feelings effectively. In the Romanian orphanages, children had grown accustomed to neglect in early infancy.” (Wikipedia )
God created us to be in relationship with Him and the world around us. Why? So He could pour His love into us, and we pour that love back to Him and others.
Before their fall, Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony with God. They looked forward to meeting with Him in the cool of the day. As we live on the other side of the fall, we struggle to imagine the sweetness of that face-to-face fellowship with the Almighty God.
Even after God was forced to banish His highest creation from the garden, He still pursued a relationship with Adam and Eve and the couple’s offspring, if the conversation God had with Cain is any indication. The petulant, angry young man was not startled when His creator directly warned him about his jealousy.
A definition of prayer might be this: “Dialoguing with God.” Adam and Eve’s evening walk with God is the first example of prayer, by this definition.
Prayer, in its simplest form, is intentionally spending time in conversation with God. God speaks, we listen; we talk, God listens. God loves to hear about our days from our own lips. He carefully listens to our hearts. Just like any good father, God hopes we will approach him for provision. God delights when we come to him for advice. But I think He is ecstatic when we work alongside Him to see the lives of those around us transformed by His love. We can only work with Him if we spend time with Him.
Christian prayer is not the mindless chanting of memorized words to a distant god in the sky. Prayer requires an active engagement of body, soul, and spirit. God, in turn, focuses His attention on His children. God designed prayer to be fulfilling, rewarding, and interactive.
Christian prayer is not submitting a cosmic online order to be stored away in God’s heavenly database until supplies come in to meet your request. Furthermore, God never intended your prayer list to be something you mindlessly send off and then go about your day, awaiting notification of its fulfilment by a discreet knock on your door.
God doesn’t need a reminder; He hasn’t lost your shopping list. He’s hoping you will come to Him, glance up into His face, and wait for Him to speak.
Every Monday at 5:30 PM MDT I host an informal discussion group on the Zoom platform. You are most welcome to join us. We are currently beginning a series on prayer. Please use the contact form to message me with your email address and a brief explanation of why you’d like to join in if you have not contacted me already. I will have a waiting room enabled. If I don’t recognise you, I won’t add you to the call to ensure the safety and privacy of the group.
Sign up for my weekly email that not only includes a devotional but also seven quotes from prominent authors, speakers, and heroes of our faith. I do not use this mailing list for any other purpose!
From November 2020 forward, all Bible verses attributed to the NASB version unless otherwise indicated.
Like what you read? You can help this ministry in several ways. Find out more HERE
Until Next Week,
©2021 Katherine Walden