1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray continuously."
Ruminating on prayer and the philosophical questions that sometimes follow ("If God knows my heart, why do I need to ask?" or "Do my prayers affect God's actions?" and "If so, why does the Almighty LORD of the universe need my cooperation?"), my mind settled on a simple, white measuring cup.
The cup I saw in my mind's eye is resting in a drawer in my kitchen, the baking drawer to be precise. This particular cup has been with me since my marriage began and has seen it's fair share of use; nine years of cakes, pies, stews, attempts at new recipes, and relative successes with favorites. Over the years, with the cup ever-ready, I have gotten better at cooking and baking. I make less of a mess; my mistakes are fewer and further between. I am now able to have fresh-baked cookies ready to eat in thirty minutes, from pulling out ingredients to dunking in milk.
That is, until recently. My children used to be content watching, eating a few chocolate chips here and there, and enjoying the fruits of my labor. But now, they want to be involved. So, my baking time waxes to an hour; there is flour all over the kitchen. And sometimes, the cookies don't turn out as expected.
When we bake, the worn, white measuring cup is now the favorite of my children. They excitedly determine who gets to hold it first, while Mom fills it; how many times they get to pour it's contents into the bowl. Their eyes are bright as we work together to create something; they chatter enthusiastically throughout the process. We laugh, we hug, and every so often, we throw flour at each other. If the mess is greater than usual or cookies don't turn out, it matters not, because we've spent time together.
Which brings me back to prayer. My Heavenly Father, Almighty God, certainly doesn't need my help to accomplish His will. In fact, when I do try, I will make a bigger mess, take longer, and sometimes spoil the recipe entirely. But because He loves me, He wants to spend time with me. He desires to make me feel like I'm helpful because that tells me I'm important to Him. And because I am uniquely important to Him, though He knows my heart better than I, He desires to hear directly from me how I feel.
So, my God hands me a measuring cup. And though I am inept and frequently messy, He lovingly tells me that we'll work together, to build our relationship. Which is the reason He gives me the cup in the first place.