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Prayer of the heart

".... but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Romans 8.26

What can we do to progress in prayer? Perhaps we have hit a crisis of faith, or face a moment of decision, or have been presented with an intractable problem. Or maybe we are simply overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude towards God, or a desire for deeper intimacy...

For any or all of these reason and others besides, we should embrace the desire because it can lead us into deeper communion. But first we need to release - even nurture - the urge. False modesty or emotional reserve are the enemies to this progress. They must be banished. Why shouldn't God be interested in his creatures, sinners though we are? Why not allow our cold hearts to defrost and enjoy some emotional warmth?

Worshippers are correctly wary of emotional manipulation, whether that comes through slick preaching or over-bearing music. But that is not to deny that we possess emotions, nor should it deflect from the truth that God, who gave us theses emotions, desires that we use them - including and especially to express our praise and gratitude in response to his grace and mercy.

Jesus used father-child imagery to guide us towards a healthy relationship with God. Unfortunately some have such an unhealthy relationship with their human fathers that the very notion is repugnant. Perhaps the best way around this obstacle is to bear in mind that God is the role model for human parents and not the other way around. In his arms there is no abuse, only acceptance and security.



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