What Is Prayer? (Part 1 – What the Bible says v. What we do)

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I watched a movie recently about a woman who was trapped in outer space.  She had little knowledge of how to operate the equipment that could save her life.  She finally made radio contact with someone and asked this person to pray for her.  She said, “I would pray for myself, but I don’t know how.  No one ever taught me.” She was desperate.  She was certain that she was going to die.  She felt lost and hopeless.  It was heart wrenching.  That scene stayed with me.  I began to wonder how many other people all around me might feel that way.

It left me feeling so saddened.  How hopeless people must feel when they want or need to pray, but believe they can’t because they don’t know how…They think their only hope is just beyond their grasp.  That they must rely on someone else to pray for them and offer them hope.  This is simply not true.  You can pray, and God will hear you.  Prayer is not a special practice reserved only for those in ministry or who appear to be devout Christians.

Prayer is something that has taken a top priority in my life over the years.  It went from being my back up plan to being a way of life.  I read somewhere that prayer should be your steering wheel not your spare tire.  So true.  I’d like for us to talk about prayer.  What is it?  What does God say about it?  Are we doing it right?

(Disclaimer – I am not a Bible scholar.  I’m just a wife and a mother who has seen the power of prayer at work and want to share it with others.)

So, what is prayer?  Simply put, prayer is a conversation with God.  I can come to Him anytime, anywhere, and just talk to Him.  I talk to God just as I would talk to a dear friend or family member – after all, He is my Abba Father, my Daddy God.  I think some people are scared or intimidated to pray.  They don’t feel they are doing it “right”. They worry about using fancy words or worry about kneeling down.  The truth is there is no “right” way to pray as long as you are coming before God with a spirit that is seeking Him.  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13, NIV

He is much more concerned with the condition of our heart as we come before Him than any big words we might use.  Our vocabulary does not impress God.  He wants our faith, our hope, our trust, and our love.  So, kneel, stand, lie down, drive your car, peel potatoes, or go for a run – you can pray while doing any of the above.  In the Bible, there are instances where people prayed bowing, standing, kneeling, and on their faces.  Eyes open or eyes closed, silently or out loud – He hears you.

As for your language, I do believe God wants us to be completely transparent before Him as we pray.  He knows what we are thinking and feeling anyway.  Why try to hide behind flowery words?  Yes, I agree there is a certain level of respect and honor we should use in our words to God, but we can let go of the need for propriety and just be humble before Him. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again.” Matthew 6:7, NLT

If you are mad at God, tell Him.  If you are heartbroken, tell Him.  If you are totally confused, tell Him.  If your heart is full of joy, tell Him!  We don’t have to hide anything from Him!  He already knows and He loves us anyway.  He wants you more than anything.  Present yourself to Him through prayer.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV

Another key principle prayer is to listen as well as speak.  God wants to let you know His will.  God wants to comfort your heart and flood your spirit with peace and joy.  Be still before Him.  Let Him and the Holy Spirit move within you.  I’m not saying God will always audibly speak to you (although I definitely believe He can if He chooses).  He does speak to us through His word, through our thoughts, through songs, and through other people.  Be open and alert to what God is trying to say to you.  Listen and you will hear.  “I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.  Bend down and listen as I pray.”  Psalms 17:6, NLT 

Imagine what your relationship would be like with your spouse, your co-workers, your close friends, etc…if you never talked to them!  You would completely lose touch of what is going on in their lives.  You would grow distant and detached.  Your relationship would suffer.  It’s the same thing with God.  When we don’t talk to Him, we are missing out on so much!  He longs for you to come to Him.  He’s waiting patiently with a heart full of love for you to simply come just as you are in prayer.

Scripture

“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'”  Zechariah 13:9, NLT

Prayer

Father God, thank you for the gift of prayer.  Thank you that we have the privilege of coming to You at any time, any place, and any where to praise You, thank You, and make our requests known to You.  Thank you for listening and for answering our prayers.  Help us to remember to spend time with You in prayer.  Help our hearts yearn for Your presence.  Help us put aside our busyness and our distractions to concentrate on You.  Bless our prayer lives God, and help us grow in You.  We love You and are honored to be in Your presence.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Action

What keeps you from having an active prayer life?  Is it time?  Do you forget?  Are you intimidated?  I created a special area in my home just for my prayer and Bible study time.  I call this my “Jesus chair”.  I keep my Bibles, journal, pens, etc…right beside my chair.  I also have a lamp, a special prayer shawl, and a scented wax warmer by my chair.  It makes the space cozy and inviting.  Everything I need is at hand, so I’m not up looking for a pen that works when I could be reading or praying.

Would a “Jesus chair” help you?  Maybe you need a different space.  Whatever your situation, I pray you can find a place in your life to make room for prayer.  Please share when, where, and how you like to pray.  We’ll talk more soon about why we pray and different ways we can pray.  Let’s grow together in Christ.

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My “Jesus chair”

 

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