How is your prayer life?
This is a question with which I personally struggle. I would love to say my prayer life is wonderful, but I can’t say that. I can say that my heart’s desire is that I maintain a vital relationship with my God and my Savior. To that end I continue to work on my prayer life.
I know I am not alone regarding prayer. So, let’s spend some time considering prayer and hopefully we all become more committed to fellowshipping with God.
What is prayer?
Prayer consists of two fundamental things.
1) Prayer is communication between God and man.
Prayer is verbally expressing to God what is on your heart. Notice that prayer is verbal. That does not mean that we are not to write our prayers. It means that our prayers must be expressed in words to God. Simply writing our thoughts down on paper is not prayer. Our words become prayer when we express them to God.
Thus, we are not speaking to God directly then you are not praying. This is why prayer in the third person is not true prayer. We pray only when we directly address God with our words. Often times we use our “prayer meetings” as a time to actually talk to the people around us; thus, we take about God instead of talking to Him.
Why would anyone pray in the third person (something like, “I pray that God…”). The root cause is most obviously an unregenerate heart. We can only talk to God if we know God—if you don’t know Him, then all you can do is talk about Him.
However, I tend to believe that most people don’t think about why they pray or to whom they pray. Thus, most people don’t think about how they pray or why they pray. That don’t come to the understanding that we are speaking directly to God when we pray. This is a solemn consideration. If we understand to whom we are speaking then we should share our hearts with God and not attempt to impress others.
2) Prayer is communion between God and man.
The second component of prayer is our communing with God. True prayer is a two-way street in which God is communing with you while you are communing with Him. If God is not responding to you during prayer then no true prayer is happening.
Putting these essentials together we see that prayer is an encounter with the living God. Prayer is “fellowship” with God. 1 John 1:3 says, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
So, prayer is not us presenting our laundry list of wants to God; rather, it involves us spilling our hearts to God and then God responding to us. This means that we must listen to God—for His response to us. Since God speaks to us through His Word, prayer and studying the Bible are both required for our fellowship with Him.
Let’s consider the first prayer in the Bible and the last prayer in the Bible.
The first and last recorded prayers
To uncover major Biblical themes, I like to look at the first and the last. For example, when studying one of the gospels, since the gospels are about Jesus, try examining the first statement made by Christ and the last statement made by Christ. Doing so will help you understand what that book is emphasizing. In the case prayer, let’s examine the first and the last prayers recorded in the Bible.
The first prayer in the Bible is recorded in Gen 3:10—So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Adam had just sinned against God. As a result of his sin, he became self-aware. Suddenly he was the center of his universe instead of holding God in that position. God had been in the garden previous to this and Adam had spoken openly with Him, but now Adam sees that he is naked. His first impulse is to hide from God.
Even under these circumstances God is attempting to fellowship with man. Adam attempts to hide, but in the end confesses that he “was afraid…” The lesson here seems to be that regardless of how we feel at the moment, we still need to speak to God and express our hearts to Him. Even though Adam attempted to hide behind a tree, God called Him out so they commune together.
The last recorded prayer in the Bible is found in Rev 22:8-9— “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”” John had just seen a most spectacular vision. In fact, he was in such awe that he actually worshipped the angel that was leading him through the vision. What we learn is that our fellowship is with God and God alone.
We are not to worship angels, the creation, or humans (alive or dead). Our fellowship is with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. So, whether we are living in fear or in awe, our fellowship must be with God. He is the one who must be the object of our prayer.
How is your prayer life?
Prayer is not difficult, but it is not easy either. We must constantly consider why we pray and why our prayers go unanswered. Thinking through WHY God should answer our prayers is not for God’s sake but for our sake. Prayers that are selfish or vindictive or cannot glorify God remain unanswered. As you consider your prayer life, you may want to consider these questions:
- Why should God do this or that for me?
- Will it make me godlier or bring great glory to God or expand the kingdom of Christ?
- Will it bless the people around me?
Please pray with me.
Lord, You alone are God. You created the world and all that is in it. You designed and implemented Your plan for all of humankind. Throughout our history, You have chosen people to boldly speak out concerning You. Because of your great love for the world, You sent your Son on our behalf. You demonstrated Your love by sending your Son even when we were separated from You by sin. Lord God, I thank you for choosing me to be adopted into Your family. Now Lord, help me to have opportunity to speak Your Word to those who do not know You. Help me to stand up under the certain persecution that will come as I serve as Your minister. Dear Father, give me the words to speak and place in my hear the same love for others that You have for them and for me. In the same way, I pray that you move within our local church to become united so that with one accord we can share Your love and Your Word with those outside our church walls. Give us a collective desire to serve you and to bring your gospel to the those who have not yet met you. Also, give us the desire and ability to minister to those within our congregation who are hurting and who are currently separated from You because of their pain. Lord God help us to work diligently for the progress of Your will and we leave the results in Your hand as we rely upon Your power. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.