Prayer: Children of God
Having a relationship with another person requires, normally, that we communicate with him or her—that there is a sharing between persons that takes place. Now when it comes to communion and God, it’s not as if he sits down at the table and chats with us over spaghetti. But he speaks to us in our hearts more and more as we encounter Christ through the Scriptures and in various other ways. We cannot genuinely encounter him without conversion toward and communion with him. If we are willing, we can continue to deepen our communion with God. But this will not take place without prayer. Prayer is an encounter with God, and therefore prayer is communion with him.
Prayer is rooted in our covenant relationship with God. In other words, prayer is shown to be communion among family. When Jesus taught us to pray, he said, “This is how you should pray: ‘Father . . .’ ” (Luke 11:2, NLT). God is rightly called Father for many reasons. For instance, he is our Father because he is the Creator. We are his offspring, for it is he who made us, he who established us, and he who redeemed us. We see this relationship in places such as Deuteronomy 32:6 and Malachi 2:10. And David calls him a Father to the poor and the orphan (Psalm 68:5-6). He is elsewhere named as Father as well. Most especially, God is our Father because of his relationship to the Son—he is the Father, eternally begetting the Son. Our kinship is related to and dependent on Christ because of the Incarnation and his Paschal mystery. He has redeemed us, reconciling us to God that we might have communion with him; he wants us to share in his life, and he continually invites us to do so. So when we come to Christ, we are baptized into him and the Spirit of God dwells within us. It is this same Spirit that cries out within us, “Abba, Father!” This relationship is real—a very real adoption because of our communion with Christ. And if we are his children, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
So prayer is communion with God because we are children of God in a special, real way when we are in Christ. Christ rightly calls God “Father.” In Christ, we too call him Father.
Why all this talk about communion with God? Simply put, our communion with God is salvation. God is life, and our life rests in his. We do not, nor ever shall we, have life apart from God. Life itself—whether on earth or in heaven—is dependent upon God. If I have life in me, it is because of my communion with the One who is life. If I reject Christ (that is, reject who he really is, not some false understanding presented to me) then I reject life and can have no life in me. This is the death that sin (separation from God) earns for us. I understand this as simply as I understand breathing. If I do not breathe, I will die. Likewise, if I do not share in the life of Christ, then I do not have life in me—I will die.
We pray because we love God. Scheduling a time to be alone in prayer is not always easy, but mental prayer is. We need Christ and long for communion with him. We cry out to him for his presence, his mercy. I must pray. It is like my relationship to my wife. I don’t think, “Well, I ought to talk to her today.” I just do it because she’s my wife and there’s communion there, there’s this powerful and abiding relationship. I know her. I would no more have to consciously speak to her than I would breathe. The only thing that interposes itself between us is sin. It is the same with God. We have communion with him, and prayer leads us ever deeper in our love for our Father.