The very first thing I ever learned about prayer as a child was that you memorized prayers. I was never taught “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake…l” (scary way to settle your day as your head hits the pillow), but I did learn many memorized prayers suitable for bedtime, dinnertime and many other occasions. I still can recite them but I don’t because I like to think through what I’m talking to God about.
The Greek word translated ‘prayer’ is ‘proseuche’. It is a merger between two words, ‘pros’ and ‘euche’. ‘Pros’ generally indicates closeness of one thing to another. ‘Euche’ is a request, petition or prayer. In another older usage, the concept of vow was included in the definition. It was thought that when a person prayed, he made a vow to give something to God in return for an answer (God cannot be bribed especially with works).
Whatever way you look at it, prayer is an exchange between two parties. It is a closeness. It is a relationship with God. What do we exchange with God? We can never out give God (or get even close for that matter), but in in Hebrews 11:6 Paul writes:
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Substitute the word ‘trust’ for ‘faith’ and it gives a clearer picture of what warms the cockles of God’s heart. As any parent knows, when a child approaches with an open heart of trust it is especially gratifying. The whole chapter of Hebrews 11 is about people who have trusted God. God LOVES that trust and he pours it on because He is all about relationship with His kids.
Prayer is a big deal. There are numerous example throughout the Bible. I am especially enjoying Moses’ conversations with God in Exodus! Prayer is not vain, empty, repetition. Thinking is definitely involved! When my head hits the pillow at night and the thoughts from the day quiet down, I relish the conversation with the Father. There are mornings when I awake with one of those ‘nudges from Him. All day He is there in crisis and celebration. Prayer is a dynamic rich relationship with someone we can trust. It is something to look forward to!
Great verse! I stumbled upon this yesterday while reading about how Christ prayed, what he prayed for and what he did not pray for in John 17. Verse 20 just totally caught my breath!
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
Jesus Christ was praying for his people and those who believe their words. Since we are reading John’s words in the gospel we have to realize that Jesus Christ actually prayed for us! Hey, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16b)! If there ever was a righteous man, it was Jesus Christ! and He prayed for us!
One morning right when I woke up, I had an ‘aha’ experience on something I wanted to pursue in the Bible. Then the radio alarm went off and my mind shifted towards other things. Later my first thought of the day in all of its richness became a fleeting thought. The same thing happened this morning, only this time I sat down immediately with my coffee in one hand and pen in the other, and wrote down all the details. Then things started to really roll and I was entwined with several things to look up in the Word.
Both times God was answering prayers on questions I had. The first time I was too busy, but the next time I was determined to listen. Listening is an art in communication between two people. Between a person and God, communication is more than an art. It is a very real reality that is something to fight for (martial arts? Hi-ya!). The noise of life which includes, fears, condemnation, apathy, opinions, doubts, religious ritual chatter and many other things can cloud our thinking. You can’t hear God in a crowded mind.
I fellowship with God-lovers on a daily basis and it is pure joy. I have nothing really valuable to contribute to another person when I don’t keep my listening relationship with God white hot. When I listen to Him, I am better able to listen to others and see God working in their lives also. That is what ‘praising God and having favor’ (Acts 2:47) together is all about.
I John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
God’s love is infectious when we share it with others. A couple of months ago, a friend told me that a great opportunity had opened up at work that it was a great benefit to his family. As I listened, I recognized it immediately as God at work and an answered prayer. It was a great conversation loaded with thankfulness! We remind each other of God’s incredible love and the results are compounded!
One of the most freeing moments in my life was when I found out that prayer was not a repetitive, memorized, knee-crunching activity that was more like a job than a joy. Common misconceptions of prayer engender a boring, tedious and unresponsive prayer life. I can understand why people have to be reminded to pray.
Prayer is active, ongoing, exciting and peaceful. It is something to look forward to, and maintains ongoing peace. There is a constant parade of stressful situations in our lives looming around every corner. This world is far from perfect because God is not running it. People who know God and are on talking terms with the Father of all good, however, can change the world’s effects.
Philippians 4:6-7 Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The Greek word from which the word ‘prayer’ is translated from (especially prayer to God) is ‘proseuche’. Koine Greek is very expressive. The first part of that word ‘pros’ means ‘face to face’ or ‘together with’. The rest of the word means ‘desire’ or ‘want’. When we are face to face with God with the desires of our heart, we learn that He is all good and loves us beyond anything we could imagine. It becomes pure joy to look at His answers. Prayer is a simple and continual conversation.
Recently I was praying about a specific situation I had a picture in my mind of holding up a platter to God upon which rested all the things I was thinking. God cleaned off the platter immediately and replaced everything a beautiful answer to sit back and enjoy. I could sense an excitement in how the prayer was answered. God does get excited! There are other times answers don’t come as fast. It is God’s business how He answers. Peace is immediate, the rest of the answer may not be. I had another experience a couple weeks ago involving a prayer that had been around on my plate for a long period of time. The answer just dropped unexpectedly out of the blue. It was no big dramatic moment. God is full of surprises.
We don’t have to wear out our knees, whine, beg or bargain when we pray. We can pray for everyone and everything with genuine thanksgiving. We can pray for family, friends, enemies, good weather, bad weather, our country (I Timothy 2:2) or whatever else is on our minds. We just grab the peace and run with it desiring His “will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”