In many ways all of prayer is simply the repetition of the phrase “You are God and I am not.” These two clauses are at the heart of what it means to be a Christian, what it means to engage with the creator of the universe.
If one emphasizes the first clause what comes is prayer of praise or adoration. It is a searching pursuit to find out just what it means to say that he is God. Through praise we explore the nuances of the idea of an infinite being of Love. Prayer which focuses on his attributes and otherness is simply repetition of “you are God.”
One the flip side we have those prayers that are a relation to God of “I am not God.” These are prayers of confession or expiation. Grounded in the idea that I am a limited, fallen being, they seek to keep me aware of my relation to the infinite and the fact that only he is perfect.
The third category are those prayers which hold these two clauses in tension, namely thanksgiving and supplication. These two categories may seem very different but they are essentially mirrors of each other: one focuses on our weaknesses in relation to God and the other on God’s goodness in relation to us. They cannot rightly exist without each other. When we pray this way we are essentially saying “You are God and I am not so know I turn to your over abundant goodness to me,” whether prior to or following an encounter with that goodness.
The more we pray the more we come to deeply grasp these categories, to let our very being be a constant reminder that he is God and we are not. If ever our prayer starts to loose this character we begin to move out of prayer and into either an egotistical exercise or an inhuman despair. Only by dwelling in this relationship can we truly know God and truly grow in our humanity.