By Dr. Harold J. Sala
Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:19-20
Prayer, contended Rosalind Rinker, is conversation between you and God. To this woman, whose books on prayer have been translated into many different languages and have passed the million mark in distribution, it’s just that simple. As conversation between two individuals who love each other is warm, intimate, and very personal, so Ros Rinker believed that conversation with God should be no different.
The fact is, however, that most people haven’t the faintest idea how to enter into this kind of a dialogue with God, because the prayers they have heard have been totally different. They have heard individuals, usually ministers or priests, pray prayers in a tone of voice that is totally different from normal conversation, using words that better fit Shakespearean English than normal, everyday conversation.
How did Rosalind Rinker come to grips with this revolutionary idea of praying using short, simple phrases– talking to God as though He were sitting there in the same room with you? In 1926, at the age of 20, Rosalind went to China as a missionary secretary. She soon discovered that being a youth as well as a newcomer to a different culture put her at somewhat of a disadvantage with older missionaries who were convinced that when it comes to prayer “we’ve always done it” differently.
One day, Rosalind was in a prayer group when she heard an older missionary praying about something which Rosalind knew had already been taken care of, and she prayed, “Lord, that prayer has already been answered!” Yes, that frank abruptness disturbed some of the old timers, but others quickly grasped the importance of complete sincerity in our prayers. Out of this developed a concept which has helped millions of people. Its called “conversational prayer.”
Here’s how it works! Two or more people form a prayer group based on the words of Jesus, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:19-20). Miss Rinker suggests that when you pray, use short simple phrases, talking to Jesus as though He were the third person in your group. She has even suggested that you put an empty chair in your group, talking to Him as though He were actually sitting there.
She suggests that you begin with thanksgiving, focusing on several items for which you are thankful, but unlike formal prayer, sentences are short. This kind of prayer is a dialogue–not a monologue where someone prays around the world for everything that he or she can think of. Then focus on needs.
Does this kind of prayer also work with families, and children in particular? Indeed, it does. Actually, nothing could be better suited to children than learning to pray conversationally. At your dinner table, everyone enters into conversation, right? You share the experiences of your day with each other, and following dinner, family prayer simply continues the conversation with your Heavenly Father.
I am reminded of Gordon Cooper, the first American astronaut in space, who wrote out a prayer which he intended to read, but when he saw the glory and splendor of what God had created, he abandoned his written prayer and just let the thoughts flow out of his heart. That is what real prayer is all about. Praying this way will change your relationship with God for the better.