You don’t have to be a customer relationship manager or marketing executive to understand the importance of communication in building good relationships. So how do we communicate with God? How do we build strong, positive relationships with Him?
Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:7-11)
Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask, as a traveller asks the way. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost; or as the merchant that seeks goodly pearls. Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. Sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer we knock. Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? This is made to apply to all that pray aright; everyone that ask receive, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, all are alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith. It is explained by a comparison taken from earthly parents, and their readiness to give their children what they ask. Parents are often foolishly fond, but God is all-wise; he knows what we need, what we desire, and what is fit for us. Let us never suppose our heavenly Father would bid us pray, and then refuse to hear, or give us what would be hurtful.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus said: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)
“If you remain in me,” as the branches remain in the vine, that is union with Christ by faith, as Saviour, Teacher, and Guide. If we accept Him in one aspect and not in another, we fail to fulfil the condition.
“My words remain in you.” Christ’s words are His whole teaching, not those parts that suit us. These words are to remain in us — not merely in our memories as words, nor in our understandings as facts, nor in our reasons as truths, nor in our feelings as sentiments; but pervading our whole spiritual being as principles of life and action, just as we assimilate food, which does not profit us unless changed into blood, bone, sinew, etc. If we have Christ’s words thus abiding in us, we shall have Christ Himself, and that being so we shall breathe His Spirit and be transformed into His likeness.
“Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” If we fulfil such conditions, in the very fulfilment all our best desires are already granted. What more can we have than to be in Christ and to have Christ in us? The branch is already most fruitful if it is actually the branch of the most fruitful vine. But we must note the grounds on which this certainty rests.
God honours simplicity of trust. For what is this trust? It is to feel that truth cannot lie, that faithfulness cannot deceive, that wisdom cannot err, that power cannot fail, and that holiness cannot blight the hope that perfect love has inspired. On the contrary, unbelief is absurd. Think of casting a shadow of doubt on infinite excellence, omnipotence, and wisdom. Let a man doubt that there is not enough light in the sun to enable him to see, or enough water in the sea to float his vessel. Besides, trust has naturally a drawing power on the heart of love.
Only such blessings will be sought for as are within the range of God’s promise. All the Christian’s hopes and yearnings are bounded by this. What lies beyond? Unholy honours, pleasures, etc.; but the Christian does not want these, he has done with these trifling or injurious toys. What lies within? Whatever is calculated to make us wiser, holier, happier, and more fruitful.
There is purity of desire in supplicating spiritual blessings. Prayer for other things necessarily arises from mixed motives. We have further in this state of soul complete submissiveness to the Divine will.
St. Paul told the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes 5:16-18)
A truly religious life is a life of constant joy. And we should rejoice more, if we prayed more. Prayer will help forward all lawful business, and every good work. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in everything. We shall see cause to give thanks for sparing and preventing, for common and uncommon, past and present, temporal and spiritual mercies. Not only for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for our good, though we at present see not how they tend to it.
Prayer is connecting with God, the Being in whom the creature lives and moves. To stop praying, therefore, is to break that connection. A man must breathe without ceasing because he needs the air to keep him alive. It is as strictly true that religious being depend upon communication with God.
A good tree cannot but bear good fruit, and year after year without ceasing; because there is a foundation laid for this at the root. So if the soul is inclined towards God, nothing can prevent it from approaching Him — not sorrows, imprisonment, death.
This inclination must be strengthened by cultivation. Because it is the product of the Holy Spirit, it does not follow that we may neglect the means of development. You cannot originate a flower; but you must supply it with means of nurture, or it will die. It is the same with the inclination to pray.
Let’s thank the Holy Trinity with the song “Father I Thank You”: