As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been reading Phil Yancey’s book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?, and I want to say that this book definitely made a significant difference for me, not only in my awareness of God’s unceasing care and presence, but also in my approach to prayer. Chapter 4, “The God Who Is”, opens with this quote from Nancy Mairs, “Who one believes God to be is most accurately revealed not in any credo but in the way one speaks to God when no one else is listening.” I have to admit that until I got blessed by this book, there was not often much difference between the way I prayed in public and the way I prayed in private. I have had a really, really hard time shaking off Assemblyisms in prayer. One of the negative things about that is Assembly prayers, at least mine, are addressed to a high, glorious, remote supreme being, not to “Jesus my friend”, as Mark Campbell would put it. Based on my upbringing, I probably magnified the “remote” part even more.
But Yancey develops the theme of this chapter, “the God who is,” to show that the very greatness of God makes nearness to us possible. He makes a statement I’ve quoted before, “A God unbound by our rules of time has the ability to invest in every person on earth. God has, quite literally, all the time in the world for each one of us.”
He closes this chapter saying,”We need not bang a drum or bring animal sacrifices [or begin our prayers with an inflated invocation] to get God’s full attention; we already have it.” This sentence brought into clear focus the contrast between my Assemblyish approach to prayer and a new perception. I realized that prayer can spring from an awareness of the indwelling Holy Spirit–He is within, He never leaves. I was freed to begin conversing with Him in the sense I think Paul was speaking of when he closes II Corinthians with the benediction, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” It is so wonderful to speak to Him at any time and know that He hasn’t gone away since we last spoke. He has all the time in the world for our conversation!