As I was reading from the book of Daniel this morning, these words really caught my attention: “The moment you began praying, the command was given” (Daniel 9:23 NLT).
Prior to this, Daniel is praying for forgiveness, acknowledging his own sin, the sins of the nation and the sins of their ancestors. It is Gabriel who assures Daniel that an answer to his prayer was already underway. God didn’t wait until he prayed long enough or said the right things. God’s response was at the front end of his prayers.
Now I don’t want to take this too far, but I do find it fascinating that the most important part of a prayer may very well be the beginning. After all, the salutation doesn’t get as much attention as the body of a letter. The first words of a prayer, though, speak volumes.
It means you’ve been listening, for God always initiates our conversations with him.
It acknowledges who you are and who he is. He’s God. You’re not. He’s the Father. You’re the child. He’s the Almighty. You’re his creation. He loves you. You’re the beloved.
It is bold. Who are we to be speaking to God? Yet we approach his throne of grace with confidence.
It breaks the silence of my heart, my soul, my mind, and my world. I may not know exactly what to say, but now there’s a conversation. I may not even know what the next word will be, but that’s OK. If you’re at a loss for words, the Spirit will take it from there, right?
Jesus urged his disciples not to pray like those who were all about word count. That’s not what counts. What counts is the who. Who you are praying to. The one who hears even before we call out to him, according to Isaiah.
So, this is one of my newest favorite verses. In my mind it’s like God saying, “You had me at ‘Father.”