Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”… So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion…”
Genesis 1:26a, 27-28a
Prayer begins with God. While we might think that prayer begins with us, it really doesn’t. Long before we ever thought about prayer or felt the need to pray, God was first drawing us into prayer. God created us for just this, for intimate communion and fellowship with Him. Know that God longs for you to pray, not only to satisfy something deep within us, but to satisfy something eternally deep within God. That is because God so loves you that He longs for time with you. Any desire you have for prayer right now echoes God’s previous and greater desire for you. Your feeling the “want” to pray is God drawing you close.
There are people who think of prayer as a human contrivance by which we try to get God’s attention. That makes prayer all up to us. We are left trying to persuade God, to coax Him, bending His ear through repetition, trying to twist His arm. Yet it is God who wants to get our attention, to have us talk and have communion with Him.
On this first day of our prayer retreat it is fitting to begin at the beginning; that is, Genesis. Here on the first page of Scripture we discover God’s purpose in creating us for communion with Him: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” Note carefully the plurality of divine Persons as God resolves to create: “Let us make.” Here is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit making the astonishing decision to include you and me in the Trinity of love and communion. In this, God gives us full place at the table with the Triune God. Any prayer that we pray flows from God’s decision to create us for intimacy, for close relationship with Him.
Christian theology teaches the doctrine of “Prevenient Grace”, meaning that God’s grace literally “comes before” us, racing to precede anything that we ever do. God’s grace gets into us and starts working in us before we ever do a thing. We love because God first loved us. We seek because we have been sought. We pray because God has “come before” us, moving us and stirring us to prayer.
It is not by accident that you have opened this daily devotional on prayer, or that you want to learn more about prayer. It is the “comes before”, prevenient grace of God drawing you closer to Him. As you pray today you incarnate the dignity and high calling that is yours by being created in the very image of God. You are made for close relationship with Him. Eugene Peterson observes, “We become what we are called to be by praying.” (Under the Unpredictable Plant)
Take a few moments to reflect on the following:
- The place I find most helpful for prayer is…
- The time I find best for prayer is…
- What I want to say to God now is…
“The single most important piece of advice about prayer is one word: Begin!”
Peter Kreeft, Prayer for Beginners