What is prayer? I’m sure it is one of the most sought after questions non-Christians face. Some see it as a really sacred ritual, whereas others see it as worthless; ‘Why talk to someone you can’t see?’
But what is prayer? Prayer is simply being able to communicate with God. It allows for a personal connection and a time of growth where you can listen to what God is telling you. That might be difficult to discern, however if you are really attentive to His Word, he will tell you what he wants you to know; where he wants you to be; what he wants you to say and what he wants you to do. But remember that God’s voice is not in the wind … not in the earthquake … not in the fire but in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12) Prayer is the perfect opportunity to get to know God more and become familiar with His Voice.
Prayer is also a time of worship; a time of confession, an opportunity of praise and thankfulness. It is a display of your devotion to him.
Even among Christians, there are certain areas of prayer that can be overlooked, cast aside or forgotten. The skit below communicates some of these misconceptions or unconscious habits we tend not to think twice about. Prayer includes listening to God’s voice and shouldn’t just be a ramble about your concerns; your thankfulness and your praise. Although God is thankful and honoured by our requests and worships, he also deeply wants there to be a time where we listen to Him. The skit highlights the difference between needs and wants. God is going to firstly ensure that he gives you what you need. If wanting what you want is approved by God, he will let it happen, however in His own time, according to His good will. It is also really important to remember that prayer should be done voluntarily and out of the goodness of your own heart because it is then that you are able to purely and passionately communicate with God. But just keep in mind that prayer is not a wish list.
Reading Matthew 6:5-13, Jesus has given us instructions on how we should pray and what we should pray for. Firstly, it is not a time of impressing others by your long, flattery and sophisticated words and sentences. And when you pray do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:5&7) Rather, it is about praise and adoration: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Thirdly, God loves being worshipped and be given all our honour. We should submit to him, declaring that He alone is Lord! who sits upon the throne. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Fourthly, thanking Him for providing for our needs and acknowledging that it all comes from Him, our Provider. He is after all the Bread of Life! Give us today our daily bread. Fifthly, comes the act of supplication, asking for the forgiveness of our sins, including asking for the power to forgive so God is able to forgive us our sins. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Lastly, the verse and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one illustrates the need of crowning him King over our lives for He alone is able to lead us, protect us, and truly love us. He alone can save us.
One verse talks about closing the door to pray (v. 6). What do you think that means? Personally, it represents intimacy and the ability to develop a personal relationship with the Lord. It gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves and truly confess, worship and thank God regarding certain occurrences in our lives. It allows for personal time just between you and God. No rush! Just pour your heart out! But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Psalm 4:4 also has something to tell us about prayer: “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent”. What do you think this verse is communicating to you? It tells me how important it is to listen for God’s voice, giving Him the opportunity to let His Spirit guide and intercede for your prayers. God wants us to be in complete quietness, giving Him all our trust and searching His will. I believe the verse is also showing that we can turn to God for help, guidance and the forgiveness of sins. If this verse tells us one thing, it is that anger itself is not sin. It is only our uncontrollable actions that we do whilst we are angry that are/can be sinful. So, when these moments arise, call upon God for help; look towards Him for strength and guidance. Remember, God is only a prayer away!
1 Thessalonians 5:16&17 reads like this: “Be joyful always; pray continually”. So, when does God want us to pray? All the time! God delights in our happiness and rejoices when we rejoice. So why not tell him your good news. Although he is likely to know before you tell him, pray it anyway because it will definitely bring you closer to Him. Even when you cry, or hurt so painfully you think no one understands, do not make the mistake of not going to God, thinking that he can’t help you because you will be mistaken! God knows exactly how you fell. Don’t forget, he did come to earth and suffered so we could have a relationship with him. So take His grace that he so freely gives. You have nothing to lose, only so much to gain.