Prayer: to God, or through God?

I recently had the privilege of praying at a family gathering. After I finished my prayer, my father jokingly expressed his disappointment in what he perceived as my lack of reverence. “When you address the Most High God,” he sarcastically chided, “it is important to use words like humbly, beseech, art, thou, dost, meet, majesty, and, when using a pronoun to refer to the Almighty God, Thee.” Translation: “you are a peasant and God is a King. Your words should reflect that reality when speaking to God.”

Most of us imagine prayer solely as an exercise in speaking to God. Furthermore, our image of God shapes how we speak to God. If God is a King, we speak in one tone; if God is our Friend, we speak in a different tone. But consider that prayer as speaking (or listening) to God falls short of the fullness of the Biblical call vis-à-vis prayer.

When we pray to God, we are present to the gulf between humanity and God. Prayer to God can easily leave us with a relationship to God that is distant and easy to compartmentalize. It can lose sight of the Gospel truth that we are in Christ now and that the gulf between God and man has been forever closed. How do you pray to what, or to a Whom, that lives inside of you? How do you pray to the One in Whom you live and breathe?

Jesus told us to pray to God. I speak to God, and I listen to God. However, our prayer life must also honor what the Bible actually teaches; “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Or as we often end each prayer, “through Christ our Lord.”