WHAT IS PRAYER?
By Paul Taylor
“WHAT IS PRAYER?”
The word prayer or prarthana (in Sanskrit) is derived from two words ‘pra’ and ‘artha’ meaning pleading fervently. In other words, it is asking God for something with intense yearning.
The dictionary describes prayer as, “an address (or a petition) to a god or goddess in word or thought.”
If prayer is an address or a petition then we could say it’s a form of communication, which could be defined as a communication link to our Creator God, which is comprised of respect, love, pleading and faith.
Through a prayer we express our helplessness and bequeath the task we face to God. In other words, we acknowledge that God is in our presence, helping us, and is capable of getting the task done. Prayer, then, is an important tool of our spiritual faith we should have in our Heavenly Father.
We may think of prayer mostly as asking God for something, (strength, wisdom, health, etc.) prayer, then is primarily a conversation with God. The very act of praying is our acknowledgement of the presence of God in our lives. And by praying, we strengthen our faith, thereby drawing closer to God in our daily walk through this life of trials and temptations. This is why prayer should be an essential part of our daily lives.
But, we wonder why prayers seem not to be answered, and you feel as though you’re really not getting through to God? We may think our prayers are too repetitious; too trivial. Sometimes we may feel as though we’re talking to thin air and no one seems to be listening. My prayer is that you obtain a better understanding of prayer and how you should pray by the time you reach the end of this article. Prayer is our lifeline to our Heavenly Father. In Daniel 10:11-12, Daniel had been constantly praying and when the Angel began speaking to Daniel he informed him that his prayer had been heard from the very first; 11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. 12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. We can see from these verses that your prayers are heard and God does respond, but on his timetable and not ours.
Jesus gave us a model prayer that we should pattern our prayers after; we can find this in Mark 6:9 and Mark 11:2. It’s better known as the “Lord’s Prayer”
There is a poem by an unknown author that I would like to share with you, it’s a little humorous, and not quite biblically accurate, but it makes a point as to our relationship with our heavenly Father through prayer, and it probably applies to each one of us in some way or the other.
It’s titled “Jake the Rancher”
Jake, the rancher, went one day, to fix a distant fence the wind was cold and gusty; the clouds rolled gray and dense.
As he pounded the last staples in and gathered tools to the temperature had fallen; the wind and snow began to blow.
When he finally reached his pickup, he felt a heavy heart.From the sound of that ignition, he knew it wouldn’t start.
So Jake did what most of us would do, had we been He humbly bowed his balding head and sent aloft a prayer.
As he turned the key for one last time, he softly cursed his.They found him three days later, frozen stiff in that old truck.
Now Jake had been around in life and done his share of But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked — it looked just like Wyoming!
Of all the saints in Heaven, his favorite was St.(Now, this line aint needed but it helps with rhyme and meter)
So they sat and talked a minute or two, or maybe it was Nobody was keeping score — in Heaven time is free.
“I’ve always heard,” Jake said to Pete, “that God will answer but one time I asked for help, well, he just plain wasn’t there.”
“Does God answer prayers of some, and ignore the prayers of that don’t seem exactly square — I know all men are brothers.”
“Or does he randomly reply, without good rhyme or Maybe, it’s the time of day, the weather or the season.”
“Now I ain’t trying to act smart, it’s just the way I And I was wondering, could you tell me — what the heck’s the deal?”
Peter listened very patiently and when Jake was there were smiles of recognition, and he said, “So, you’re the one!”
“That day your truck, it wouldn’t start, and you sent your prayer a you gave us all a real bad time, with hundreds of us all trying.”
“A thousand angels rushed, to check the status of your file,but you know, Jake, we hadn’t heard from you, in quite a long while.”
“And though all prayers are answered, and God ain’t got a He didn’t recognize your voice, and started a truck in Minnesota.”
That about sums it up for a lot of people.
We don’t pray enough!!
Are we like Jake the Rancher? Does God recognize your voice when you pray?
I don’t believe it’s a case of voice recognition, but rather heart recognition. If we are not sincere in our talk and walk with God, I don’t believe he will respond, as Isaiah indicates; Isaiah 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Our hearts must be sincere in seeking the attention of our Heavenly Father who is waiting, willing and begging us to turn from our wicked ways and seek his rightousness. Isaiah 1:16,18-19 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
First Thessalonians 5:17 says “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING “ If we are truly seeking a relationship with God, then our hearts will be seeking his guidance continually ,in every aspect of our lives as we try to obey his will.
Look at what the Psalmist had to say in Psalm 55. David is in turmoil because of the direction his life has taken, but he doesn’t’ wallow in self-pity; instead he calls upon God several times a day to keep and renew his spiritual strength and to allow God to work his will. God wants us to call upon him for his guidance and intervention when we are at our end
Look at Psalm 55:17 “Evening and Morning, and at Noon will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” The Psalmist is telling us we should pray regularly to God for our strength and guidance. Prayer is our lifeline to a loving and caring Heavenly Father. We gain strength and perseverance through prayer, but without a constant contact with God through prayer, we will spiritually die.
We are mere mortals with very limited intelligence, which is weakened by our sinful nature, and we are too inclined to seek instant self-gratification without the patience or time required for God, and the many blessings which lay in store for us when we set aside our daily toils to spend time in prayer with Him.
We scamper around like chickens with their heads cutoff when things get out of control, or a minor crisis arises, and everything seems to be going in the wrong direction. Then we try to solve the problem ourselves rather than turning it over to God and letting him hash it out for us.
We fail to recognize there is help available and it‘s free, 24 -7 and the line ain’t busy. If we keep our focus on Jesus and our desire to do God’s work, we won’t forget to pray, and will pray without ceasing. But, how do we pray.
We have a good example of a sincere prayer described in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, where King Jehoshaphat faced three armies he feared would overcome his kingdom. King Jehoshaphat was in a dilemma, desperate with no way out; (so he thought). He was placing his faith and trust in man’s ability rather than in the God that had established the Judaic kingdom. He called his people together for prayer and fasting, humbling themselves before God; the results were more than miraculous.
Let’s read the text in 2 Chronicles 20 beginning at verse 5 and reading through verse 12. I suggest you read the entire chapter to get a better understanding of God’s miraculous feats for those that put their faith and trust in him.
5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
6 And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? 7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? 8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, 9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. 10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; 11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. 12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
If we look at this text carefully we will see a pattern in the way King Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord.
First, he began by praising God in verse 6-9. “6 And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? 7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? 8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, 9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
Next he described the situation in verses 10 -11, “10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; 11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
Finally he asked God to intervene for Judah in verse 12, “12O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
King Jehoshaphat began his prayer by praising God and his creation. He spent most of the prayer giving God praise and recognition rather than making excuses for the situation he was in.
The second part of the prayer was a description of the problem they faced.
The final part of the prayer was to ask God to intervene for the sake of the kingdom.
We can see that Jehoshaphat prayed in a pattern to God; He first honored God by acknowledging him as the creator of all, and then explaining the problem they were facing, and finally asking God to help. Jehoshaphat never made an excuse or attempted to advise God as to the proper way the problem should be solved.
Do we not seem to reverse this pattern when we pray? We put the priorities in the wrong order. We more often than not complain to God, make excuses and then try to advise him as to the best course of action. We can’t seem to shake that old human nature trait of “I know how I want it done; I want it my way, and now.”
Everyday life is full of unexpected trials and problems, but we as Christians should be able to overcome through our faith and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. But there comes a time in our lives when we face that insurmountable obstacle that seems so overwhelming that we are ready to surrender, give up, and walk away.
But! , there’s that little voice within us crying out; “make the call” “make the call”.
You have an advocate just waiting to assist and advise. He has all the answers and is able to solve any problem regardless of the magnitude, but we have to first humble ourselves in prayer and ask for this help in order for him to provide the needed solution.
Sometimes the results are not what we expect or desire, but we have to remember God knows what’s best, and his solution is always the right solution.
Are you sincere in your walk with God? Is your heart in the right place with him? Is there something in your life that is blocking that relationship with God? Take an inventory of your heart and your life and make the necessary changes to strengthen your relationship with your Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land
Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved by Paul L. Taylor Rev 01/01/13