A friend recently expressed surprise when I mentioned that it's really important for me to engage with God on a feelings level when I pray. I'm not sure why the idea made him uncomfortable, but it did. I've thought a lot about our discussion since then. I keep asking myself, Why is it so important to me that God has emotions and that I can connect with Him on that level in prayer?
Here's what I've concluded so far:
• Prayer is relational. It's not a mechanism by which we get God to do
things for us, kind of like placing an order on Amazon then waiting for
our stuff to arrive. Prayer is communicating with God as a Person. And
this Person we call "Abba, Father" has feelings--Scripture is clear
about that (for just a few examples, check out Genesis 5:6-7, Exodus
32:10, 1 Kings 3:10, and Psalm 103:1). The most intimate, deep,
trusting relationships are built when two individuals share open
themselves up to one another and connect at a heart level. I want to
relate to God like that.
• I need to know God cares. He asks me to pour out my heart to Him (Psalm 62:8). If I'm going to be that vulnerable with Him, then I hope for a sympathetic, if not empathetic response. Thankfully, that's exactly what He offers. Speaking of His people, Israel, Isaiah 63:9 says, "In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
• I want to be His friend. Abraham was called a friend of God. Jesus calls His disciples His friends. I want to be His friend, too. For His sake and not just for my own. There are things on God's heart. I want to be sympathetic to those things. Psalm 25:14 says "The LORD confides in those who fear him." I want for Him to confide in me. And sometimes He does. Sometimes He moves me to urgency or passion or tears over things or people that don't ordinarily move me. When that happens I pray, Oh, that must be on Your heart right now, Father! Show me how to keep company with You on this situation that is important to You.
I imagine more ideas will come to me as I continue pondering on this theme. But in the meantime, I'd like to hear from you. Do God's emotions influence the way you pray? How? What if God did NOT have feelings? Would your prayers change?