1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
The old expression is that absence makes the heart grow fonder. But, that is a lot of bunk. Absence can help smooth over a lot of rough edges. Distance & time can dull the memory, especially memories of pain & suffering. Ask any mother & usually the travail & effort of pregnancy & childbirth are forgotten, since they have so many new efforts & travails just raising their kids. No, absence doesn't really make anyone fonder or sweeten any relationships, & it certainly doesn't strengthen them.
What actually makes a relationship stronger & closer is communication. How can anyone truly know anyone else without the side-by-side, give & take of talking, sharing, hashing out problems & concerns, jokes & opinions, news & even (gasp) gossip. The difference between a friendship & an acquaintance is communication. The difference between a couple & two singles is communication. The difference between a loving, close relationship, & a stalk & prey relationship, is communication; both parties must be aware of the connection & intimately involved.
In our relationship with God, He is always ready, willing & able to keep up His end of the relationship. He is the One who created it (even created us). He is the One who initiated the connection between us. His is the One who refuses to take offense when we do anything & everything to sabotage the communion He wants with us. He is the one who has spoken to us often & completely through His Word. Everything, fully & exhaustively, that we need to hear from Him is printed in those 66 books of His Word. Hi has told us of His love for us, His commitment for us, & even of His sacrifice for us. From the first word of Genesis to the last of Revelation, we have His communication to us about all that He has done & will continue to do for us. But God, our Father, Brother, & Spirit, can only hold up His end of the conversation.
This is the reason we have prayer. Quite often in my years as pastor, I have been in hospitals & nursing homes, alongside beds with unresponsive people. It is in those quiet moments, with silent, sick, or comatose people that any communication is shown as golden. Even harsh words of anger, pain, resentment, fear, or any other negative feeling, is better than the cold shoulder, the deaf ear, the mute tongue. And it is in those moments of extended silence from aging or impaired family & friends that it is hard to keep the relationship intact. In fact, the spouse who sits for hours on end, for year after year, with the unhearing, mute partner is help us as a hero of love & commitment, because we all know that the bond of even true love is hard to uphold in a one-sided conversation.
And so, God gave us the gift of prayer, & invited (commanded) us to pray. He wants to hear from us. We have all of His words in His Word, & we need to reply, to talk, & to share with Him. Even when we have nothing is us but the negative, we need to yell, beg, plead, complain, accuse & spill our pain to Him. He has given us this prayer communication, & promises to hear, always, 24 hours of the day, 7 days of the week, 52 weeks a year, until the year's end.
Why do we need to be commanded to pray? Why do we need to be reminded to pray? Why do we even need to be taught to pray? Speaking is so natural to us, conversing is the simplest way we have to express ourselves. It seems that even the smallest & youngest of us knows how to complain & express our discomfort & pain. It must just be our ingrained sin & Pig-headedness that stop us from talking to God, our Father, from upholding our end of the conversations.
Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, & rejoice always. Or, to paraphrase St. Paul, just be a good friend, a good mate, a good child talking to Someone who loves you.
In His Peace, alone,
Pastor Red Etzel