Dear Wounded Pilgrim,
Many ex-Assembly folks have mentioned having problems with prayer. I must confess that I also have struggled with this same issue. Prayer was a more difficult issue for me than my recovering reading the Bible was. Not that I have it all figured out, but I can share some things that have helped me, andalso might help some of you.
While we can learn to think instead of just feel our way through the Word, prayer, on the other hand, by it's nature, is very emotional. Rom. 8:26 even says that, "The Spirit prays for us in groans that can't be verbally expressed." As ex-Assemblyites we remember the great soaring emotions of prayer/worship we used to have, and now we are confused in our feelings with such questions as, "How much of that emotion was of God, and does God even want me to relate to Him now with an emotional connection?"
As I said about recovering devotional reading, we must first get our thinking straight and then let our emotions follow. I think it is true in prayer, too, but in prayer we can't just read out of a prayer book to God some kind of clear and doctrinally correct statement. This is because prayer is usually full of a lot of our own personal "groaning", and to be satisfying there must be a sense that this personal burden is being heard and lifted.
I think for us here recovery of a feeling of being heard in prayer and that God is present in our lives will come from seeing God differently from how we were taught in the Assembly. I have shared before how not long after leaving the Assembly I saw a bumper sticker that said, Jesus is my best friend, which in my Assembly days I always considered a trite and shallow statement.
GG taught that "God is not your buddy on the beach", in the hope that we would see God as very high and holy. But this very High and Holy God came to us in the person of Jesus Christ who died for us on the cross to make us inseparably His. He came to show us that God is the Father, to show who this Father is, and to reveal our new relationship with this Father because of what Christ had done.
Prayer is an intimate communication to the lover of our soul. Prayer, to be meaningful and satisfying, must include deep and intimate emotional involvement. Without the emotional connection there is a deadness and dryness in our Christian experience that our best cognitive abilities can't make up for. In further posts I would like to share what has helped me with the problem of being able to pray and also having a more fulfilling emotional life with God.