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To Whom Do You Pray?


Give ear to my words, O Lord;
     give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry,
     my King and my God,
     for to you I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
     in the morning I plead my case to you
     and watch.
     (Ps 5:1-3)

To whom are you speaking when you pray?

I am sure you have your reasons and your habits for how you address the Deity; Christians who pray generally do. But when you utter “Lord,” “Heavenly Father,” “Dear God,” “Father God,” “Dear Jesus,” “Higher Power,” etc., who does that being represent to you?

This is the most important question of prayer because it cuts to the core of belief. It represents the difference between prayer as self-talk, superstition, or petition of faith.

You may have learned to pray from parents, pastors or teachers who told you there was only one acceptable form of addressing God and you had better use it if you wish to please him and receive the answers you want. I remember a few of these pompous exchanges myself at church and school, but not at home.

My parents talked to God as a loving Father and intimate personal acquaintance. The Father loved them, they loved the Father, and they loved me and I loved them. So I learned to pray to a God the Father who loved me and looked out for me, a Son, who created me and saved me, and a Holy Spirit who guided me and stood up for me. This God was the over-arching presence in my life – a God who loved the world and loved me, an ever-present help in time of trouble, and the One who was on my side in every aspect and season of life and death as described in the Scriptures that were often read in our family worship (John 3:16, Ps 46:10, Romans 8:31-39).

I know there are men and women whose relationships with parents were so harsh and horrific they can’t relate to God as Father. But God is the original and perfect parent none of us will have on this earth. Jesus prayed to God as Father. Faith and trust is required of us to make the deeper connection of prayer as relationship.

David woke up in the morning and prayed to “my king and my God.” He knew God as the authority to whom he owed ultimate allegiance and the source and strength of his life.

There is nothing abstract or theoretical there. The pronouns convey that David was praying to someone he knew personally and to whom he ascribed power and authority – a personal creator, redeemer and sustainer who David believed and followed.

We know that David became full of himself and arrogantly betrayed his king and his God. But God forgave him because God wants his children with him, not lost and destroyed, and God will do what it takes to make that happen.

David had his gracious God, but not as his unique possession. His Psalm is in the scriptural canon to teach us conversations of grace with our king and our God are available to us each day.

I ask you again, “Are you making the connection of prayer to a God you know on a personal and intimate basis? Who do you know God to be for you personally? I can tell you it is not an easy intellectual and spiritual exercise to reach your own answer to that question. It is essential to find that answer, if your prayer is to be a true conversation with your mind and heart engaged with the mind and heart of God, rather than a mere utterance of lip service.

Kent Hansen is a business and healthcare attorney from Corona, California. This essay first appeared in his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday.” Kent’s devotionals can be read on the C.S. Lewis Foundation blog at

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