What is Prayer?

For true Christians, prayer [Gk: "proseuche"] is communion with God. Through prayer we actually experience relationship with God. The quality of our prayer life then determines the quality of our relationship with God. Prayer is talking with God. Prayer is listening to God. Prayer is enjoying the presence of God. It can take many forms – for example: worship, confession, thanksgiving, praise, petition (asking for things), waiting (silent, listening and sensing of God) and warfare (command). If we are baptized in the Spirit we can pray with the spirit, in languages unknown to us but not to God. (1 Corinthians 14:2,14).

Prayer is not simply saying words. It is not repeating formulas. God is looking for heartfelt relationship. We are told by Jesus not to make meaningless repetitions of words when we pray. (Mathew 6:7). Tongues may be meaningless to our understanding, but it is not to God. In a future lesson we will give more attention to this subject.

There is a lot of prayer that never reaches God. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself” (Luke 18:11). “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer shall be an abomination.” (Proverbs 28:9). It is outside the scope of this lesson to talk about prayers offered to false gods or to the devil. Also, we will not look at religious prayers or traditional prayers that can be uttered without heart. We will be considering prayers that come from one who has repented of his sins to the best of his knowledge, and who walks by faith.

The purpose of salvation is to restore lost people to relationship with God our Father. Through the cross of Jesus, the barriers to that relationship were removed. When we begin to trust God once again and turn from our sin, He comes into our lives to begin a new relationship of love with us. God is in every true Christian (Romans 8:9,10; John 14:23; Revelation 3:20; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Our faith and love towards God will lead us to recognize His presence with us, to talk with Him, to listen to Him, to sense Him. This is prayer. We express our thanks, our faith, our love, our hopes with God in prayer, and we receive from Him answers, assurance, guidance, peace, strength, power, revelation of who He is and what He wants to do. (Matthew 7:7-8; John 16:13; Philippians 4:6-7; Ephesians 1:17,18

STEPS FOLLOWING PRAYER

Usually Satan will try to suggest to you that your prayers were not heard. He will encourage you to look to the problems again and get your eyes off God. He will try to get you to talk as if you are not sure if your prayer is answered. If he succeeds in getting you to express doubt it is likely that your mouth confession will cancel the effect of your prayer. Therefore guard your mind and heart, resist the temptation to talk negatively about the situations with others, especially with those with whom you are praying.

Take firm control of your thought life. Think on positive things (Philippians 4:6-9). By praising God and confessing the relevant truths of the Word, cast down every thought that is contrary to your prayer. These thoughts many times are nothing but the suggestions of the devil, who is working to negate our faith.

Keep speaking the what the Word says on the issue at stake. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23; 2 Corinthians 4:13).

With your imagination, see your prayers as answered. Abraham was encouraged by God to imagine his descendants as the stars he saw in the sky, before there were any descendants. So God will often give us a picture for us to hold onto and encourage our faith. Speak nothing contrary to this vision.

Act in line with your faith and your confession(James 2:17). Prepare for the answer to be manifested. Examples of this can be found in Mark 6:39-40, where Jesus organizes the people, preparing them to receive the blessing of the multiplied loaves and fishes. Also in John 11:39, Jesus told them to take away the stone from the tomb of dead Lazarus, a preparation for the answer to the prayer for his being raised from the dead.

TYPES OF PRAYER

As mentioned before, there are different forms of prayer. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us into a balance of all these kinds of prayer.

  • Worship: [Heb. shachah {shaw-khaw'} = bow down, prostrate oneself]. The true worshiper God seeks worships in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23). God wants truth in the inner parts (Psalm 51:6). In true worship, there is a total bowing down of the heart to God. In worship we express love and admiration to God which is a response to the revelation of who God is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Worship is voluntary submission to the love, the will and the law of God. Any hypocrisy disqualifies us for true worship. In worship we hear the voice of God.
  • Confession: In confession of sin, we tell God with our mouth our sin. We should specifically tell God what we did, or acknowledge what we failed to do that we should have done. This is necessary to restore communion with God and is a preparation for further fellowship. In confession of the Word, we tell God with our mouths what He has said in His Word. We express faith and confidence in God and God’s Word verbally, and it releases the blessing of God to us. Very rarely do we rise above the level of our verbal confession before God.
  • Thanksgiving: This is thanking God for what He has done for us. We can thank Him both for blessings seen and those as yet unseen. It is a key to faith and it is natural and right that we give thanks always to the One from whom all good things come. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • Praise: This is declaring good things about God, both about his character (who he is) and also His actions. To say “God is good” is to praise God. There are many styles of praise. Some are noisy and exuberant, others are calm. Praise is well-expressed through music, singing, words, shouting, clapping, dancing, shouting and giving to God.
  • Petition: This is asking God for the things we desire. Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive.” (Matthew 7:7). We are commanded to ask.
  • Intercession: The ministry of intercession involves all the other types of prayer. However, the emphasis of the prayer ministry in intercession is the needs of others, and the advancement of God’s interests in the world. It is not focused on praying for things for oneself, but for others.
  • Waiting: (Habakkuk 2:1). This is a form of prayer in which the soul is silent and waits for God to move it or speak something by His Spirit. God promises to renew the strength of those who wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 27:14). We are to wait patiently on God. Through this we express to God in a practical way – not my will but Yours be done. If we are always talking in prayer we will not be able to hear what God is saying.
  • Warfare: (Psalm 149:6-9). This is prayer directed against the powers of darkness. Our praises to God are also a weapon directed against the powers of darkness (demons, fallen angels who are at work in the affairs of the world and the church). We pronounce against them the written judgment by reading the Scriptures of judgment against them (Psalm 149:9), we command them to be bound or to leave their positions of influence or authority in the name of Jesus. (Matthew 16:19; Mark 16:17). In “praying for the sick” we should pray prayers of command ordering the bodies of people to be healed in Jesus’ name. This is a form of spiritual warfare since it is part of destroying the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8; Acts 10:38).
  • Praying in Tongues: (1 Corinthians 14: 2,15; Jude 20) This is a method of prayer available to those baptized in the Holy Spirit through which they can pray the will of God through words given by the Spirit. Since the mind (the understanding) is not directly involved the mind has a chance to rest and wait on God and receive revelation while this praying in tongues is taking place.

 

PRAYING THE WORD

Since the Bible commands us to give constant attention to the Word and to meditate on it night and day, (Proverbs 4:20-22; Joshua 1:8), it is clear that our praying should not be something separate from the Word, but rather, that God’s Word should direct our praying. For example, Daniel found the promise of the time of deliverance for God’s people and prayed according to that. (Daniel 9:2). His prayer acknowledged openly the truth of God’s Word (Daniel 9:10-15). Many other examples could be given. Elijah’s prayer for the heavens to be shut was based on the promise of God to do this if the people turned away to idols.

Praying the Word in a strict sense includes quoting it and using it in our prayers. God responds to his own Word. It will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). We can take general promises from the Bible and using the words of Scripture pray as if we expect God will fulfill them for us personally. This is a powerful form of prayer.

DEDICATION TO PRAYER

God says to continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2). Men ought always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Watch therefore and pray always (Luke 21:36).

Prayer is where our dedication to God is tested. This is where our destiny is really determined. This is a command with constant application. Either we maintain communion with God or we don’t. Either we depend on God and wait on Him or we don’t. Either we allow ourselves to be led by Him or we don’t

Prayer, to be effective, often requires fasting. This means denying ourselves food. A normal fast is where we do not eat (although we may drink water). This intensifies our focus on God, puts down the power of our flesh and enables us to pray more easily, with less mental effort. The only way to pray without ceasing and to have maximum results in prayer is to be willing to practice self-denial where necessary. This includes Spirit-led fasting. Fasting for a day is normal and often very necessary where we are not aware of the reason for which our communion with God is weak. The other kind of self-denial needed in the life of a person serious about prayer is “watching” or denying yourself sleep. This could mean late nights of prayer or getting up early in the morning to pray. Jesus practiced both of these in His busy ministry (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12).

God is looking for people who willingly, out of gratitude, love and devotion, will devote themselves and their free time to this vital ministry.

KEY BIBLE VERSES ON PRAYER

PRAYER CONTENT : GOOD GOVERNMENT 1Tim 2.1 2.2; GOSPEL WORKERS Mt 9.38;

  • THE LORD’S PRAYER Mt 6.9-6.13
  • ALL CONCERNS Php 4.6 Eph 6.18
  • THE WAY PAUL PRAYED Col 1.9 Eph 1.17 1.18
  • WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING Heb 13.15 Php 4.6
  • WITH TONGUES AND INTERPRETATION Jude 20 1Cor 14.13
  • ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL 1Jo 5.14 5.15
  • WITH NO LOVE FOR INIQUITY Ps 66.18 Jas 5.16
  • BY REMAINING IN CHRIST AND IN THE WORD John 15.7
  • IN FAITH Mt 21.22 Jn 14.13 Mk 11.24
  • WITH FORGIVENESSMk 11.25
  • WITH ASKING Mt 7.7
  • WITH EARNESTNESS Jas 5.16
  • FOR GOD’S GLORY 1Cor 10.31 Mt 6.13 Jas 4.3
  • IN THE SPIRIT Jud 1.20
  • IN HUMILITY Mt 6.5 2Chr 7.14
  • IN LOVE 1Cor 16.14
  • IN JESUS NAME Jn 14.13
  • WITH DETERMINATION Lk 18.2
  • PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT 1Cor 14.2 14.15 Eph 6.18; Jud 1.20 1.21; Rom 8.26 8.27
  • PRAYER WITHOUT CEASING 1The 5.17 5.18
  • WAITING ON GOD Hos 10.12
  • WITH WATCHFULNESS Col 3.2 Eph 6.18 Lk 21.36
  • WITH ENDURANCE Lk 18.1
  • ABOUT EVERYTHING Php 4.6 4.7
  • FOR OTHERS 1Sam 12.23.

This content was compiled by All About God ministries.