What do you think of when you think of prayer? The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most common prayers known by millions of people. Saying “grace” before a meal is what some think of when they think of prayer. There are books of prayers. Many prayers that are said are ones that were learned in a particular denomination or spiritual practice. And then there are the desperate cries for help during a crisis that we call prayer. I imagine all of these things count as prayer.

Maybe the more important question is, Who do you think of when you think of prayer? Prayer is our attempt to communicate with God, to communicate with Spirit, to communicate with something bigger than us. Whoever we think God is, is not as important as the fact that we are trying to talk or share our spirit’s needs with the One who made us. Might we think of prayer as the creature’s attempt to communicate with it’s Creator?

There is the time that we come to in our walk with God, that we are in tune to the Spirit’s voice and prayer is like breathing back and forth in an intimate dance of being together. But those times come when we have walked with God and sought to know Him with our whole heart and soul. It is the result of mature, experienced relationship. You read about the lives of the prophets and the apostles and you get a sense that God is never far away and the voice of Spirit is always in their ears.

The beauty in the Christian’s prayer is the belief that God is a personal God and one can go directly to the Source and put forth one’s thoughts, needs, and desires. This is also the idea of gnosis—or personally knowing God. But although this has the advantage in our mind’s eye of having God directly available to us, we often give no thought to what state of mind we’re in or what or how we talk to God. We frequently give a stranger more thought and courtesy than we do to the Creator of All.

This is not to say that God is not available to us unless we go through some ritual, God responds to the desperate cry as well as to the prayer prepared in the quiet thoughtfulness of our meditations. The problem comes when the majority of our prayers are offered infrequently and are used in a desperate attempt to have God come to our aid and quickly fix the messes that we have created.

This is where regular meditation and sacred reading can help us to turn our conversations with our Creator into something more than a rote recitation, a desperate plea, or a hurried obligation. If we enter into a state of quietness and meditation before we begin our prayers, preparing our heart to be open, quieting our mind to focus on God, and then think of what our soul wants to speak, then we start to be able to talk to God in new ways and listen with new ears.

If we say the same prayer every day, over and over, it’s not that it doesn’t have meaning, it’s just that we never learn anything more about what our soul wants to talk to God about. Why am I here? Who did I come to serve? What is the meaning of this event in my life? What am I supposed to learn from this experience? These are questions that will help us to grow on the spiritual path and make us more effective workers on the path of light.

Prayer when used with meditation helps to create a two-way conversation with our Creator instead of a one-sided monologue. Just think how much more we might learn if we found a new way of Being with God?