Have you ever experienced a moment in prayer when it felt as if a gentle rain was falling on your shoulders? For many of us prayer is a duty--a should, an ought. Of course, there are benefits prayer. We have a sense that the God of the universe had heard what's on our hearts, and we believe that God will do something with what we've expressed. More than that, we've seen answers to prayer, and these answers keep us going, keep us praying.

But prayer as a gentle rain falling upon the thirsty earth of your inner being? When was the last time you felt that?

This nourishment of prayer is not something you can believe; it's something you experience. Beliefs are artifacts of faith; they're derived from genuine spiritual experience, they are not spiritual experiences themselves. Faith, on the other hand, is the experience of God, and that experience cannot be fully described anymore than your love for another person can be fully described. If course, we try. And well we should. Experiences nearly cry out for communication. Poets try to speak of the love that burns in their hearts. Artists paint it. Musicians put it to sound. But these expressions are symbols and metaphors, not the real thing--as lovely as they may be.

So you believe in prayer. That's good. But why not experience it? Get outside the usual cramped space of your praying, and step into the rain. A slow, life-giving rain is falling.

Too few get out of themselves long enough to feel it.

Intention: Today, I'll pause for prayer, but I'll avoid telling God things. Instead, for just a few moments, I'll let the grace of God fall upon my parched soul, like "rain and snow that water the earth" (Isaiah 55.10).

AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman