I finally started reading "A Praying Life" by Paul E. Miller yesterday. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you have a good and satisfying prayer life or whether you struggle with prayer. In the Introduction (yes, I even got something from the introduction...lol) he talks about prayer as dining with Jesus. This really hit home for me. My family always had dinner together. My mom and brothers and I would work on preparing dinner and then my dad would come home, go up to the bathroom, and when he came down about 20 minutes later (I guess he never went at work), we would all be sitting at the table with the food on it ready to eat. This is how it happened every night. Dinner would then take about 45 minutes, as we passed food around, ate, and talked about the day. My dad always had stories from work, and it was just a nice time of enjoying one another. Then, after we were done eating, we would all get up and help clean up the table and wash the dishes together.
As the years went on, however, we all became more busy. Soon there were some of us missing when my dad came home from work, or my brothers that had to milk would come home after my dad. Also, sometimes people had to rush out after dinner. Dinner became more rushed, and there wasn't as much conversation. Then, as soon as we were done people would jump up and start putting things away. At that point we had gotten a dishwasher, so we didn't even stand around and clean up together, everyone would just run off to do whatever they had to do. One day I spoke up about this. I was like, "Why can't we all just sit around after dinner and enjoy each others company?" So we started just sitting around after we were all done eating, for about 15-20 minutes, letting our food digest and just talking with each other. So, as you read this excerpt from his book, think about your own ways of enjoying friends or family and then think about prayer in that way.
"Our best times together as a family are at dinner. At home after a meal, we push our dishes aside and linger together over coffee or hot chocolate. We have no particular agenda; we simply enjoy one another. Listening, talking, and laughing. If you experience the same thing with good friends or with family, you know it is a little touch of heaven.
"When Jesus describes the intimacy he wants with us, he talks about joining us for dinner. 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me' (Revelation 3:20)
"A praying life feels like our family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationship. It's intimate and hints at eternity. We don't think about communication or words but about whom we are talking with. Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God.
"Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God. Making prayer the center is like making conversation the center of family mealtime... Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another."
May you grow in your experience with God. May you learn to simply enjoy his presence. May you "commune with your own heart upon you bed, and be still" (Psalm 4). May you learn to walk in the joy and peace of a heart fully connected to God, through Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, enjoying and experiencing God in everything that you do, as if he were a friend simply walking beside you.