Prayer is perhaps one of the great mysteries of transformation. Answers for how prayer works, does it work, and when does it work fall on the vague side and are less concrete than we prefer. Some would say we pray because it changes us and less so that it changes God. We do know from the Bible that God’s mind can be changed because of prayer or fervent requests. We are less sure today if God’s mind is still changing due to prayer.
Current research has confirmed that prayer (frequently called meditation today as it was in the Psalms) alters pathways in our brain. Perhaps this is why in the Bible we are strongly encouraged to spend time with God. God knew the outcome of time spent in thanksgiving, praise, quiet, and even bringing our needs to God would offer the one coming in prayer a new pathway in their thinking. New Testament writers name this as renewing the mind and having eyes and ears attuned to life-giving ways.
Coming to the mystery of it, we are invited to lean into the mystery of prayer, not retreat from it. We are called into the conversation with God not to alienate from God. We are in the flow of an ancient tradition of connection with God. In moving from the “Please help, God,” to a longer spilling out of your heart, God leans into your heart as you lean into God’s heart.
Come, spend some time with God. Speak that which is not frequently spoken to God. Offer thanksgiving. Express your deepest longings to God. Whisper a need for forgiveness of self or others. Rest in the quiet understanding of God. As you finish your time in prayer, notice what has changed within you. Do you sense a small shift that happened? Might this be that mystery of prayer for you today?
Photo by Evan Johnson