Prayer: What is it Exactly?

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Prayer: What is it exactly?

 

Prayer is communication with the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.  That’s it really.  Honest! I think that the bigger question would be this: How DO I communicate with the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth?  Are there any rules?  Do I need to stand or should I sit, kneel, lay down on the floor?  Do I bow my head, or raise my arms and head to the sky? 

Is Prayer essential?  Do we need prayer to live Christlike?  My simple answer is yes.  Communicating with someone tells us who they are, and what they want.  With God I believe that it is a two way street.  God wants us to tell him what we want, and what we “think” who we are so that we can find out what we “really want and need” and who we really are in Him.

There are a few things in the process of communicating that we need to know.  It is not all selfishness and not all others oriented.  Prayer is a well-balanced meal.  Prayer fills our minds and hearts with knowledge and longings.  Prayer settles arguments, it restores relationships, it gets us focused on love rather that hatred, malice, anger, envy and strife. 

There are two acronyms that were shared with me a number of years ago that are based on two words:

PRAY:

ACTS:

P—praise

A—adoration

R–requests

C—confession

A—ask for forgiveness  

T—thanksgiving

Y—yield

S–supplication

 

These two acronyms basically do the same thing.  Adoration and praise are the same, confession and asking for forgiveness is the same, while requests, thanksgiving, and supplication have no real match.  Acronyms are not perfect, but how do I know if the way I am praying is what God’s looking for?  How can I know God will hear me?

Prayer is 2 things

Here is what I propose.  We need to do two things: 1.) Focus on God and 2.) Focus on others.  These two get us on the right track.  Paul in two books seeks for us to do these two.  Ephesians 6:18-20 shows us these two, and so does Colossians 4:2-4.  Paul says to pray and to pray for others—namely himself.  So let me break them down.

For number one we do several things.  The first is naturally we give praise and adoration.  Jesus gives us this classic way to do this in Matthew 6:9.  Jesus is teaching on prayer and the model prayer starts by “hallowing” our Father.  Let’s back up a bit though.  Jesus in verses 5-8 tells many words may not be heard.  The focus is not on how much we say but rather on what we say.  It appears to be clearly directed. 

Too Many Words

Kenneth Bailey commenting on this says that Jesus was calling us to focus our prayer and that many words have become worthless.  We are so immersed in words that they become worthless or in his words “cheap.” (Bailey 93)  He also notes Ecclesiastes 5:2 where it states that we are not to be “rash” with our words.  Our words need to be minimal and focused.  “Jesus invites the reader into a world where words are few and powerful.  In such a world each word must be examined with the care it deserves.” (Bailey 94) That is true because the first sentence or statement is focused.  It is the thought of a Father and what it means to “hallow”. 

When we first see the word Father we see intimacy of relationship.  This demonstrates that we have a special relationship to “our Father” and that Father is “in Heaven”.  He is close yet far.  He is above and yet loving and caring.  It also indicates one who is respected.  Are we not to respect our parents?  The word also carries the idea of a title.  Putting Him apart from our human fathers, we see a respectful and higher position than just any ordinary “father”. 

Jesus gives the picture of one who is high and lofty, but later gives another of a loving and caring father by telling the story of the prodigal son.  Of course a father that is high up has a right to punish, but also the right to forgive.  Both give a picture of one whom we need to “hallow”.        

What it means to Hallow

Here in the Lord’s Prayer to hollow is to ask that we would make His name holy.  It suggests that if it can be made holy it can also be defiled.  Jesus is saying that we should not defile but keep His name (Father) held up in high regard.  We see Him as holy and ourselves as unholy.  This is the recognition we need to see—the proper relationship.

This is the first step with much more, but we should understand the general idea that we need to see the proper relationship with “our Father” and the rest should flow pretty easily.  Once we see Him as he is and as we are, we then should see ourselves as worthless sinners that are in need.  We should be asking for forgiveness. 

Focusing on God and Others

After establishing our relationship with God, asking for forgiveness, we then can begin to ask for some simple requests for our lives.  We can ask Him for our “daily bread” (Matthew 6: 11).  Our daily bread is what we need to survive, not our wants, like getting cable T.V.  OK, so that would be nice, but not necessary.  If what you want to ask for does not seek to glorify God but yourself, you might want to consider whether that is a need or a want?  It could be that you want a certain book so that you can read and educate yourself so that you would go out and share the Gospel more effectively.  That is not a selfish need/want but selfless.  That would then bring us to step number two above: Focus on others.

There are many out there that need things in life, and one may be that they need their daily bread.  They could also have health problems, and so forth.  In Ephesians and Colossians Paul asks for prayer but not a selfish prayer.  He asks for specifics that would help him do a better job in spreading the Gospel.  It was for God’s glory, not his own. 

That is to be the focus, right?  Focus on God and then focus on others.  There are many out there who have dealt with prayer in more detail but here this might get us going and pointed in the right direction.  Give God the Glory, always!  AMEN!



Work Cited:

Bailey, Kenneth. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

About Ernest Grogg

First and foremost I am married to Olesya and looking forward to the rest of our lives together. Marriage is a journey and it is interesting and fun. Saved at the age of 25 and while salvation has been a challenge, God has always been faithful.

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