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What IS Prayer?

Many religions pray. But who do people believe they’re praying to and why do we believe prayer has power? How can prayer become transformative?

These are my simple thoughts about prayer during my morning quiet time with God.

As a Christian, I don’t believe in an impersonal deity that has power to control. I don’t pray out of fear for a deity, I pray out of reverence and trust that the God I pray to and choose to serve is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. I believe I am establishing a relationship with a supernatural triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe He is Creator and owner of the universe. I believe that my prayers are being grafted into all that I believe Him to be and how He has created me to serve Him.

I think that’s relevant to the reason why I pray and why I believe my prayers have any power.

We make a fundamental error when we go to God with our concerns based on us. We all start out praying this way, thinking God's there to help us for our sake. But it’s not for our sake, it’s for His because He’s gone before us and is faithful (we’re not), He is holy (we’re not) and He knows all things from start to finish (we don’t). It’s all based on Him.

If we’re believers in Jesus Christ, prayer is beginning from the standpoint of the bible and speaking its promises over us before the Father under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Word is truth and life so that’s what we are praying over ourselves. Truth and life. And in so doing we extend our faith.

Hebrews 11:6-8 (NCV)

Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him. It was by faith that Noah heard God’s warnings about things he could not yet see. He obeyed God and built a large boat to save his family. By his faith, Noah showed that the world was wrong, and he became one of those who are made right with God through faith. It was by faith Abraham obeyed God’s call to go to another place God promised to give him. He left his own country, not knowing where he was to go.

Without faith no one can please God. Romans 14:23 says, anything done in opposition to a position of faith is sin. The Easy-To-Read version says it this way:

But anyone who eats something without being sure it is right is doing wrong. That is because they did not believe it was right. And if you do anything that you believe is not right, it is sin.

Confessing in faith the life of God’s Word in direct application to our lives is true prayer. That’s why, I believe, the bible says (1 Thessalonians 5) to pray unceasingly, because we must continually declare over our own minds the truth, the knowledge and the life of God’s Word.

Our minds will quickly distract and dissuade us of His truth by believing the worries and fears that can crowd out the life-giving transformative power of God’s Word. It is our minds, followed closely by Satan’s influence because of our openness to other thoughts, that cause us to believe things that work against the knowledge of God in our lives and what He would have us think and do.

Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Curses verses blessings. Declarations of truth and faith verses declarations of doubt and disbelief.

The condition of our tongue follows the condition of our thoughts, which follows the condition of our hearts. Are we grumblers and fault-finders (Jude:16)? Do we find what is true and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)? Do we defiantly speak in unbelief against what we profess to believe in the bible (2 Corinthians 10:5)? We are in that case a double-minded person in whom there is no stability (James 1:8).

James 1:6-8 (NLT)

But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLV)

We break down every thought and proud thing that puts itself up against the wisdom of God. We take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ.

Lamenting to the Father only has its place in small measure, and only through a relationship of seeking and trust. The expression, the building up of, and the complete embracing of faith based on the Word (Jesus Christ) becomes our hearts’ desire and is what touches God’s heart to move on our behalf.

We must train our hearts and teach our own minds how to follow after God’s ways. The fruit of the Holy Spirit will then accompany our intentions of belief. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is holy, it cannot be grown or manifested from our own good behaviour. It is supernatural.

Our prayers, spoken in faith, unceasingly, are a supernatural power over our lives because we relinquish our selves into Jesus Christ’s Word and God’s perfect preordained will. We must only believe (Jesus said this in Mark 5:36).

Jude verse 20 says (NIV)

But you… build yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit

Philippians 4:8 says (ESV)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

We need the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s help to transform our minds, without which we will succumb to the turmoil and deceit that revolves there. We need to cultivate our minds according to the standard of the bible, and to yield to its teaching. It is there we find rest.

Prayer is allowing His Word to redirect our thoughts and train our minds. It’s a changing process, like the impressions made on sand by the force of waves.

What is NOT prayer?

Complaining, doubting His Word, disbelief in what His Word says – in that we don’t make application of it to our lives.

It’s not one way. It’s THE way for us to live. We don’t take bits from here and there that we’ve heard around us that sound good that suits us and then declare it.

Criticism, doubt and disbelief bring ruin to our soul and our spirit. It tears down our faith rather than builds up. It expresses unbelief in God.

Our own thoughts and wishes is not prayer unless we can bring it before His Word to be the compass and the weight.

I’ve heard preachers say, if we don’t come away changed after praying, we haven’t prayed. We may have complained, or spoken our own thoughts, but we haven’t come into agreement with God.

That’s good to keep in mind, isn’t it?


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