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What Exactly is Prayer?

What exactly is prayer?

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. – 1 John 5:14-15

People’s Frustration With Prayer

So much of prayer is focused on our requests to God. Prayer has to be more that asking things from God that He already wants to give to us. It gives the picture of us asking for a car, and God quietly responding we need to be more specific. If we hear Him, we ask for a BMW, and He thinks to Himself that wasn’t the one He wanted to give to us and hopes we try again.

This is the frustration so many of us have with prayer. God wants us to ask things of Him, but the requests seem to have to be the exact requests He wants to give us. Prayer becomes a big guessing game on what God wants to do. No wonder we are to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17); it will take that long to get it right.

A New Definition of Prayer

Maybe prayer was never so much about the specific asking as the spoken words and intentional thoughts. Maybe this is why we are to not let any unwholesome talk come from our mouths and why we are to take every thought captive (Ephesians 4:292 Corinthians 10:5).

What we think transforms our world.
What we speak creates our realities.

James tells us that after desire is conceived that it gives birth to sin (James 1:15). Therefore our thoughts lead us to our actions.

God spoke the world into existence. Jesus told the winds to calm, spoke peace into men, and declared His work finished. Created in the image of God, our words are also powerful. If we say to that mountain throw yourself into the sea, it will be done (Matthew 21:21).

Let Our Prayers Be Dreams With God

Whatever is good, pure, excellent, praise-worthy, think on these things (Philippians 4:8). Set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2). Let’s us fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).

I believe that our command to prayer continually comes more in line with these verses than our continual asking of things from God. Let our thoughts reside in the heavenlies. As we hang out with God, allow His characteristics transform how we think about the world around us. Now as we see things in our world that don’t match with how things are in heaven, those become the things we talk to Jesus about.

This interaction is prayer. We discuss what we see and how things could be different. We dream up ways that things can change.

Now prayer is more than a wish list;
it is building connection between you and God.

Example of This Kind of Prayer

Take for instance you want to pray against human trafficking. This is a great thing to pray about as it devalues human life which God has created and loves. So instead of just asking that God end human trafficking, it now becomes a point of conversation.

God, how can we stop human trafficking? It must be attacked at the roots. Okay, what are the roots? Poor looking for a better life. People using others for their gain – both the traffickers and the buyers. How can we address these roots? How can we make people value life?

This is just a sample, but you can see that it can take you into the heart of God for matter. You become a partner with Him in this world. You grow in understanding His ways, which can help you get more in line with the flow of the Spirit.

  • I hope this view of pray is helpful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts using the comments below.

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