2015-10-30 - What is a Prayer?
And Why Do We Do It?
According to Webster's Dictionary, the definition of a prayer is an humble and sincere request to God, an utterance to God in praise, thanksgiving, confession, etc. My personal definition of a prayer is when a Christian person talks one-on-one with the only true living God.
The most famous prayer in the Christian world is the model prayer that the Lord Jesus taught His disciples. It begins “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name.” (Matt 6:9) Most of us were taught this when we were children. To me, the most gut-wrenching prayer in the Bible is when Jesus tells God in the Garden of Gethsemane,”O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done (Matt 26:42).” We know that the cup He was talking about was the cross.
Let’s cover some aspects of prayer.
Why do we pray? We usually want God to bless us, or we want to thank God for something that He has done for us. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus said, “And whatever things that you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matt 21-22). The key word here is "believing."
Yes, God hears and answers all of our prayers. However, He works in His own way and in His own time, but in the end, He will answer your prayer. It may not be the way you want it, or when you want it, but it will be the perfect answer, God’s answer
How do you pray? There have been many books written on this subject. I have heard many different people pray, and most of them pray differently. By this, I mean that some prayers are long and some are short, some people use complex sentences and others like me use simple sentences, some of them stand while praying and some kneel, and some clasp their hands in front of themselves - while some, especially the ones kneeling, extend their folded hands above their heads. The only thing they have in common is that their heads are bowed in reverence to the One to whom they are praying.
Most prayers start off with praise, and then contain either thanks or a request, then more praise, and end with some rendition of, “I say this all in the name of Jesus.” I believe this ending is because the Bible tells us that Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 KNJV) I seriously believe that you do not have to be an eloquent speaker to pray to God. If your heart is right, He will hear you. I also believe that we should thank God for all of the blessings that he bestows on us; however, let us remember that when we bless our food outside of the home, we only want God to hear our prayers, not the people dining at the next table.
How often do we pray? Paul tells us in 1st Thessalonians that a part of Holy living is “… to pray without ceasing… . (5:17)”. I do not think that he meant to pray all day and all night. I may be wrong, but I think that he means for us to pray throughout our waking hours. As an example, in the morning, thank God for allowing you to get out of bed and giving you the ability to walk, talk, see, hear, think - and the many other wonderful things that God designed you to do. Inform Him of what your plans are for the day. That is, “Lord this is what I have planned for the day, if it is within your will” Pray for wisdom, strength, ability, and probably patience, in solving that tough problems that you are facing that day. Thank Him for your breakfast. Thank Him for your lunch. Ask Him to forgive you for the sin you just committed. Oh yes, we all sin. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).”
If you tell someone that you will pray for them, do it then. Find a quiet spot, and pray. If you promise to pray and you don’t, in my mind, you are like the hypocrites that Jesus talks about in the Bible. At the end of the day, thank God for all the blessings that He bestowed on you during the day. If you had “one of those days,” you can at least thank Him for the water you drank, the food you ate, the Earth on which you walked, the clothes you wore, the air you breathed, and the roof that is covering your head, as you lay it down to sleep.
In closing, I want to quote Martin Luther. He said, “To be a Christian without prayer, is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.
Dear heavenly Father, I want to thank You for the day and for the love, grace and mercy that You have bestowed on me this day. I also want to thank You for the privilege of being able to talk to you any time, throughout the day and night, but most of all, I thank You for always answering my prayers. I love You, Your Son, and the Holy Spirit. I say all of this in Your Son’s name. Amen
All verses are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise noted.