What is prayer?
Prayer can be defined in so many different ways. Google defines it as:
“a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity.” (www.google.co.uk)
This is a good starting point for understanding prayer, but in reality it is so much more simple, yet encompasses so much more. The most basic definition of prayer is the act of communicating with God: talking and listening to God, just as you would with anyone else.
Prayer is a way in which we can express our thoughts, our feelings, our desires and our struggles to God. It is the way in which we can ask for his help and listen for his guidance. It is the time we can spend in fellowship with him.
The Bible also talks about prayer frequently, describing it in many different ways: as pouring out your soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15); as seeking God’s favour (Exodus 32:11); as crying out to heaven (2 Chronicles 32:20); as drawing near to God (Psalm 73:28) and as kneeling before the father (Ephesians 3:14).
Why should we pray?
Many people question the importance of prayer: why should we have to pray to a God when he already knows everything we want and need?
But our relationship with God is no different to our relationships with friends or loved ones, communication is so important in getting to know one another, building the relationship and just spending time together! In prayer, we are in fellowship with God.
When we explore the Bible, we see in the gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John which tell the story of Jesus’ life) that Jesus prayed frequently – either alone or with his disciples. He wanted to be in constant conversation with his father! Later in the Bible, in the book of Philippians – we are instructed to bring our situations to God in prayer:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” – Philippians 4:6
So what do we pray about?
We can talk to God about anything; absolutely anything! However, some situations that we frequently turn to God in prayer for include when we need to ask God for forgiveness, when we need strength to overcome temptation, when we are making decisions and need God’s guidance, to understand what God’s will for our lives is – is he calling us to do something in particular? We also pray that God’s will shall be done on earth and to when we need help to achieve something –
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:27