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   One of my favorite Old Testament passages, Deuteronomy 4:7, reminds me that “God is near us whenever we pray to Him.” My question is - what keeps us from praying? Some days God feels distant. We may not feel like approaching God because of life’s overwhelming difficulties. People go through periods of spiritual dryness. And yet prayer can cause us to see our world differently, when we invite God into it.
   When you read the Bible, prayer shows up often. Abraham, Moses, and David pray constantly. Hannah famously rose after praying silently and tirelessly for a child. The Israelite, Daniel, is thrown into a den of lions for praying. Jonah found himself in a hopeless situation - at death’s door in the stomach of a fish. But he prayed and God delivered him. The man who loses everything, Job, works out his suffering and pain through prayer. In the book of Acts, prayer is one of the markers that a person has received the Holy Spirit. Let's not forget about Jesus who taught his disciples how to pray, healed people with prayer, and in some cases - prayed continuously all night. When you read your Bible, prayer is more than just common, it is significant.
  I have many thoughts about prayer, but rather than present you with a book, here are just a few basic beliefs that I hold near to my heart. Reflecting on these beliefs is one way I transport myself out of those seasons of spiritual dryness and back toward fellowship with God. First, I believe that prayer is significant and powerful. Prayer is not simply making requests or asking for forgiveness, but it is a continual conversation with God. When we enter a conversation with God, our hearts and minds are engaged. Sometimes after we pray, we are settled because we have placed our worries and concerns in God’s powerful hands. At other times our hearts are stirred; God has placed justice and restoration in our hands. In these moments we feel compelled to do some good and share some grace. When we pray, I believe it reorients our purpose and our views back toward God and that higher purpose. I believe that prayer is more than humans making a request, but it provides each of us with a real connection with God.
  Second, I believe when we pray, we receive God’s full attention, and that is significant, so read that again! Throughout the book of Judges, no matter how far the people have strayed, sinned, and revolted, whenever they “cry out,” which is another word for pray, God turns toward them and gives them the salvation they are seeking. It’s almost as if God is waiting for us to give him permission to enter our problems.  Children want the full attention of their parents when they cry out, “Look at me!” This desire is not unique to children, we all want to be seen and noticed. When you pray, be assured that God sees you fully. Know that when you cry out with your problems God notices you, hears you, and extends Himself to you! So, what is keeping you from praying right now?