Read: Genesis 17
Almost the entirety of this chapter is an extended prayer conversation between God and Abram. It is the conversation which established “signs” of the Covenant which God wanted to initiate in and through Abram.
The first sign is the name changes, resulting in Abraham and Sarah. You probably already know that a name change meant a change of relationship. Abraham is now “ancestor of a multitude” and Sarah is now “princess.”
Prayer thus becomes the means by which God calls us by a “name” we would never have used to name ourselves: essentially, “My beloved.” As Brennan Manning has often pointed out so well, receiving this new name is, for some, the hardest thing they ever do. They have heard and accepted other names for so long, the thought that they could be God’s beloved is too good to be true. But it is true! And it what God whispers to us in prayer.
The second sign is circumcision, which would later become baptism in Christianity. This simply means that our covenant life with God has a beginning point. We do not simply “wake up” and find ourselves to be automatically children of God. Neither do we wander through life “any old way,” but as those who have been marked as disciples of Jesus.
Prayer is thus “Covenant conversation.” We learn who we are as we pray, and we carry in our lives the evidence that we are who we say we are.