Philip Melanchthon, a companion of Luther, noted, “Trouble and perplexity drive me to prayer and prayer drives away perplexity and trouble.” So the first labor in prayer is to get beyond our own needs and lay hold of God Himself in perfect communion realizing that in Him and in Him alone are all the answers and solutions we need. This is the place of rest and peace. Here, a clear certainty rises in our heart – “We are more than a conqueror through Him that loved us! (Romans 8:37)” This relational aspect of prayer is the most important facet of prayer. It is not words or posture. It is wordless. You have not prayed until you have prayed yourself to silence – and in that silence you experience deep levels of peace with God and the peace of God (Psalm 4:4; 46:10). Spurgeon warned that our prayer “should not be a mere leaping out of bed and kneeling down, and saying anything that comes first to mind. On the contrary, may we wait upon the Lord with holy fear and sacred awe.”
The highest call of prayer is communion with God! The heart of prayer is worship and the heart of worship is our love relationship with God, in Christ, by the enabling of the Spirit, out of the understanding of Scripture. The root of the word communion or fellowship is the Greek word, koinonia. Prayer is the means by which we find “common” agreement with God. Here we experience “oneness” – peace with God. We should not only be at peace with God, having submerged our sins in the blood of the Lamb, we should be walking in the peace of God. Communion involves union with God – the fusion of life and purpose. This is more than a legal union. It is coherence. Our relationship is marked by a desire to walk in lock-step with the Spirit. We want to live in His shadow, not merely exercise our legal right to pray or call ourselves his children. Communion is not about the positional relationship, the fact of our union with Christ, it is about the quality of the union. We enjoy the presence of God. We want to pray, to spend time with God.
The aspect of prayer we call communion with God is diverse. It is even contradictory.
- On one hand, it involves casual “chit-chat” with God. It is just talking with him throughout the day as the companion who never leaves us or forsakes us, the one who is concerned about our every need. Communion with God should be as natural as breathing, as easy as a visit with an old trusted friend. On the other hand, it is anything but casual. It is intense and passionate – as fiery as two lovers wanting desperately to convey to the other the level of their affection and devotion.
- Thus communion with God is personal. God relates to all of us individually, just as each of our children are all ours, but so different. So each of our prayer lives are unique. An intimate thing – between us and God. And yet, if we become comfortable in our prayer relationship with God and forget with whom we are relating, we are in trouble. How can we talk to God? Walk with Him? Abraham said, “I am but dust and I have taken it upon myself to talk to the Almighty! (Genesis 18:27)” Prayer is intensely personal. And yet, there must also be times when all we can do is stand in awe of His glory, overwhelmed by the majesty of who His is.
It is precisely in this tension, that we get the healthiest prayer relationship with God.
- I know Him! How could I ever know Him? His ways are past finding out! (Job 9:10; Romans 11:33-34)
- I am a friend of God! Jesus has called me “friend! (John 15:13-15; James 2:23)” And yet, I must never stop standing in worshipful wonder before Him (John 21:20 compared with Revelation 1:17).
- There is warmth and intimacy in my communion with Him? Yes! Well, no! I feel close to Him and then I am at times awe-struck with the utter otherness of God! (Isaiah 40:25-26; 46:5-9)
- Is it possible to know Him? Yes! Well, no! We can know his voice and sense his presence (John 10:27; 18:37). Yet, if we develop a style of communion by which we become too familiar with God, our relationship will be out of balance. We will fail to respect God (Psalm 2:11; 19:9; 25:14; 103:13, 17; 111:10). We will forget that we are dealing with the one “who sits on the circle of the earth and in comparison, we are like grasshoppers! (Isaiah 40:22)”
- While we can know Him, we must never fail to see that God is Himself an eternal discovery zone. He can be known, but He cannot be fully known. We know Him, in fact, only by His self-disclosures to us (Job 34:29; Isaiah 45:15; Deuteronomy 29:29; Daniel 2:19-22). And one day we turn a corner and see aspects of His character and glory, that we had never considered before (Matthew 11:25; Matthew 16:17; I Corinthians 2:9-10). “Great is His faithfulness; His mercies are new every morning!” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Communion with God is back and forth between intimacy and discovery, between knowing God and the unknowable God, between friendship and falling before Him in silent wonder and worship. Too close – you become dangerously familiar with holy things. You treat lightly the sacred. You fail to take seriously your frailty and His holiness. Too distant – you fail to develop the capacity to snuggle up and rest in the lap of Father God. You never experience the sheer joy of knowing you are loved and accepted in His presence. You fail to cultivate the capacity to hear his voice and walk in confident assurance not only of His favor on your life, but also of the grace of God flowing from you to others.
 Charles Spurgeon, quoted by Dick Eastman. No Easy Road, 39.