If someone asked you “what is prayer” how would you answer? If you were writing a test maybe in university course on Christianity and the test paper said, “Define Christian Prayer,” what might you write down? A simple answer might be “prayer is talking to God.” After all, that’s what we do in prayer isn’t it? We bow our heads and in our minds or out loud or with a bare whisper we utter phrases and requests to the invisible God. If we’re praying with others, people take turns talking out loud to God.
But this definition is very limiting. It includes the communication piece. But notice it describes one way communication. We talk TO God as if prayer only works by us talking and God listening and then deciding on whether or not to act on our requests. If we think of prayer this way, it can result in a pretty distorted relationship with God. It makes us the commander and Him the servant. We talk and He’s supposed to act or obey. But the very name of God reveals this cannot be. God, by definition is greater than any human. To call someone “god” assumes they are much greater than the average human. So the simple definition that prayer is talking to God will not do.
So what is prayer? Today, we will discover a much broader definition of prayer. But I don’t want you to leave here today thinking that “now I have a fuller definition of prayer. So should anyone ask me, I can now answer them – because I get asked ‘what is prayer’ by so many people every day. Except we seldom get asked about prayer’s definition. Sometimes we don’t think much about broadening our understanding of prayer. Nor do we talk a lot about it with others. In my journaling about prayer I wrote this November 18, 2015. I find if I continue to read about prayer, it stimulates me to keep at it. Perhaps I need to do this because prayer is so seldom a point of conversation or discussion. I don’t often find others discussing their joys and struggles in it. If we don’t talk about prayer or think much about it, we might have a very limited definition of prayer which can limit our relationship with God. I pray that God will use this message to deepen and broaden your own relationship with God. I hope a whole new realm of walking with God might be opened up to you.
Because God wants to be close to us in relationship. God has made a way for us to be close to Him. Because of this way, we can draw near to God through prayer. So our study today will begin with some deep digging in a glorious passage about God’s desire for closeness with us. Then we will unpack a broader definition of prayer.