The other day I was leaving the fitness center after a swim and saw a church member. We waved to one another. I walked over, shook his hand, and we chatted.
Prayer is like that.
If you read books on prayer--and I've read bookshelves full of them--you'll find plenty of definitions of prayer, most of them providing helpful insights into this ancient spiritual practice and enhancing one's experience of it.
Early one morning last week, while it was still dark, I was unable to sleep and got up. As I usually do, the first thing I did when I awoke was to pray.
If was as if God spoke to me, revealing a definition of prayer that was both simple and profound.
God defined prayer for me, saying, "Prayer is taking a step closer to me."
But back to the fitness center.
When I saw my friend in the lobby, I took a step toward him. Another step. Another. And then another until we shook hands and talked with one another. My steps had taken me closer to him.
Similarly, the spiritual distance between us and God--distance that exists because of us, not because of God--is reduced and then eliminated as we take one step after another, closer and closer to God through the daily discipline of prayer.
It doesn't matter the kind of prayer we pray--thanksgiving, petition, intercession, confession, oblation, adoration--but only that we pray. And pray daily. As many times as we can every day.
God, I'll keep taking those steps toward you every day, until we're face to face, hand in hand, as my friend and I were in the fitness center lobby.