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Article 85 - Prayer #1

Seven Lessons on Prayer

Jon Gary Williams

Lesson 1 - What Is Prayer?

What is prayer? Prayer has been described in different ways. While some descriptions may seem unclear and sometimes confusing, one small girl explained it this way: "Prayer is the way I tell God the thoughts of my heart." How much simpler can it be said?

What is the role of prayer? How does it fit into God's plan of things? Prayer involves communication. It is reciprocal - it is a response to God who speaks to us. How does God speak to us? He does so through His word, the Bible. This helps to illustrate the role prayer plays in the Christian's life.

Here's a significant question. Do you ever feel inadequate in praying? Of course, we all do. But why is it this way? Because we are so far beneath God! "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor or your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8,9, NKJV).

We realize how feeble we are, we sense how awesome it is to approach the One who made us. However, God opens this door to us and wants us to enter. Think about it. God has given us "access" to him. This is a key to appreciating prayer. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we access by faith into His grace..." (Rom. 5:1,2). "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." (Eph. 2:18) " whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him." (Eph. 3:12)

So, instead of feeling inadequate, we should come to God in confidence. No greater thought can pass through our minds, than to know that God wants us to pray with boldness and confidence.

Six things we need to keep before us

1) Prayer fulfills an essential need of man - to speak with his Creator.
Isn't this something we all deeply require? Our finite nature tells us there has to be someone above us for which we reach. By our nature we are compelled to look beyond this physical world to a power beyond us. So writes the Psalmist, "The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens." (Ps. 113:4)

2) Without prayer we are left with an unexplainable void, for this is our only avenue to God.
Remove prayer and there is no other way for us to approach God.

We cannot see God. We cannot feel (touch) God. Even so, God tells us that He hears us. Said king David, "Bow down thine ear to me." (Ps. 31:2) God hears and God listens. To ignore or neglect prayer is to reject the only avenue to God we have. It is so sad that some give prayer so little attention, and some even scoff at it.

3) Prayer fulfills God's desire. He wants us to speak to Him. We are the pinnacle of His creation, for we are made in His image. He made us so we could communicate with Him, much like His angels. We are just "a little lower" than they. (Heb. 2:7)

Though we may not be able to completely appreciate it, the fact is that God created us to
communicate with Him. He anticipates us speaking to Him. He expects this. We must remember that praying to God is His desire, and, certainly we want to fulfill His desire.

4) Prayer is something we are to learn. Like other parts of Christian life, we need to discover prayer. Remember the apostles' plea: "Lord, teach us to pray." (Lk. 11:1) Jesus responded with a simple, example prayer (vv. 2-4). We are all in need of learning about prayer (how to pray), for we can never complete our learning of it. Our young people especially need to be taught about prayer, and they should be encouraged to engage in prayer.

5) We are not alone in prayer, for the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered...He makes intercession for us according to the will of God." (Rom. 8:26,27)

This is one of the amazing things about prayer - we have help. This reveals the wisdom of God.
He knows we need help. Since the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, this shows that our prayers may at times involve complex, troubling things - to the point, we are unable to express our thoughts and feelings. Though we may ponder how a thing for which we pray will turn out, we accept God's word that He hears us and with His Holy Spirit is aware of our needs and will act according to His will. Isn't it wonderful that we have help and that we are not alone in prayer?

6) We must realize God already knows what we need. Jesus said, "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matt. 6:8). "For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." (Matt. 6:32)

This is another notable thing about prayer. Though God already knows our needs and wants, He still wants us to pray for them. Isn't it interesting that God created prayer in view of fact that He already knows our needs? This shows the true uniqueness of prayer.

Why does God want us to pray? This is his desire. When we reflect on this aspect of prayer we cannot help but think about the parent/child relationship. Even though parents know the needs and wants of their children, they still want to hear them express themselves.

God's desire for us to speak to Him reveals how much He loves us. That He wants to hear us
pray tells us how much care and concern He has for us.

Click here for Lesson 2: The Purposes Of Prayer