Prayer is one of the key foundations of Faith. Much of our Faith, as Christians, hinges upon it, and without it, we are rendered completely unable to grow in relationship with Christ. Many would describe such a man as a “dead Christian”, having Faith but lacking fruit.
A Christian’s spiritual walk involves prayer from the beginning to the end. From praying the classic “sinner’s prayer” as a teenager or adult to praying our last words on our deathbed, prayer is deeply rooted within the life of every Christian. A Christian with a healthy prayer life can expect to see his relationship with Christ grow, and in direct relation to this, the strength of his Faith will grow also.
What is prayer?
Piper defines prayer as, “Intentionally conveying a message to God” (“What is Prayer”). After quoting Romans 8:26-27, he explains his definition by saying, “now I take that to mean not that Christ is out there groaning in Heaven, but he’s right here when I’m speechless, and don’t know what to say. And these groanings are rising from the Spirit, with meaning, and no words” (“What is Prayer”).
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.Romans 8:26-27
Prayer is more then just words. In many ways, it is a spiritual groaning, lacking words but full of meaning. Furthermore, if I may presume to add upon Pastor Piper’s definition, it is an intentional communication of love towards the Spirit in light of the growth in relationship presented therein. This brings our final definition to “Intentionally conveying a message to God, through either words or meaningful groaning brought upon by suffering, in an intentional communication of love towards the Spirit.”
Prayer is “Intentionally conveying a message to God, through either words or meaningful groaning brought upon by the weight of this world, in an intentional communication of love towards the Spirit.”Tweet
But why pray at all?
This is, of course, the natural question for a struggling Christian. Simply reading the end of the last verse presents us with an explanation for this question. If the Spirit already searches our hearts and knows what we desire the most, why ask at all? Couldn’t he just give us our heart’s desires without requiring a request?
Although it seems wrong to use an earthly analogy for a spiritual example, I would ask a simple question: even if your dad knew what you most greatly wanted for Christmas, wouldn’t you still ask him?
My dad knows me better then any human on this planet except for my mom. He knows everything I would possibly want for Christmas, and yet I’ll still tell him. He’d ask, “Well, any ideas for a Christmas present?” And I’d respond with a few things I’d been thinking on, giving him a choice. Why? Even though he knows what I want (likely involving either sharp objects or a video game), he still loves to hear me ask. There is relationship within prayer, as we already saw, and it comes out through giving Christ our heart’s desires. He knows exactly what you want, down to the most minute details. This does not, however, hinder him from asking, because he delights to hear his children talk to him.
Look at Matthew 26:39: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”” Even Jesus prayed. Jesus, One with the Father, fully man and yet fully God, intimately in relationship with His Father and knowing everything that was about to happen…prayed.
The all-powerful Christ, capable of creating worlds from just his breath, prayed to His Father, even though he knew that there was no other way. Why? To express his heart, and to talk to His Dad. As I said- Christ loves it when we talk to him. In doing so, we show Him that we love and trust Him enough to give him our grief, our strife, and our anger, and he answers.
Does Christ answer? Does he even hear me?
The answer is a resounding “YES!” Christ always hears you, and He always answers. Now wait, Mr. Skeptic in the third row. Yes, I see your hand raised in protest. What do you have to say?
“I have prayed many times. The last time I prayed, I asked Christ to heal my wife, and yet nothing happened. She’s still sick.”
A reasonable complaint, to be sure. Yet look at what I just said. Christ always answers. I never said He always says yes. Think about it: if you asked me, “Elisha, do you like tacos?” I have two options. Answer correctly and truthfully, saying yes, or lie, saying no and risking being crucified on the grounds of heresy. Both options are answers, and yet one is the preferred.
Christ doesn’t just like hearing us talk to him. He also loves saying yes to our requests. At the same time, in His eternal wisdom, he sometimes choses to say no. Regardless of whether the prayer is reasonable or not, He is the only being with true, pure, and infinite wisdom. Even in times of hardship, in which we beg Christ for an answer, He sometimes chooses to give us an answer: no.
Why is prayer so important?
As previously mentioned, prayer builds relationship with Christ, gives us the chance to talk to Him, provides a gateway for confession and supplication, and creates a channel for us to pour out our hearts. For several years now, I have prayed two prayers repeatedly: “God, please give me wisdom,”, and one other- a question. As to the first, I believe he has answered it in some ways, but I am yet to hear an answer on the second. Have I stopped asking? No. Just because I can’t hear the answer doesn’t mean it’s not there.
A Christian without prayer is a soldier without his commander’s orders. We cannot understand Christ’s leading of us unless we make it a habit to pray without ceasing. In doing so, our relationship with Christ grows, thus impacting our Faith and making us stronger Christians.
When should we pray?
Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?Corrie ten Boom
Prayer should be your first resort, not your last. In fact, the Bible tells us to pray at all times for all reasons. Is there a bully picking on you in 5th grade? Pray. Did your car just get towed? Pray. Ice cream fall off the cone? Buy another one, then pray for a job so you can pay off all these ice cream bills.
Prayer should be a daily habit. Pray from the moment you wake to the moment you sleep. It doesn’t have to be a request. In fact, it doesn’t need to be anything except, “thank you, God, for this day.” I’m known for some more obscure prayers. “Thank you God for making coffee” is a personal favorite.
Regardless, don’t be afraid to just talk to God. Treat Him as if He’s your best friend, just sitting next to you. Since He is everywhere, he can always hear you, even if you pray in your head. If He can hear your heart, He can also hear your mind. He adores it when you talk to Him. Don’t be afraid to do so.
Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you were greatly encouraged. If you were, make sure to click that Follow button below (or to the side). Then, when I release new content like this, you’ll get notified. If you have any questions or observations, make sure to leave a comment! Like Jesus, I love it when you talk to me. Finally, if you want some free content for the day, feel free to reblog! Thanks again for reading, and I hope you have a fantastic day!
All scriptural quotations taken from the English Standard Version.
“John Piper- What is Prayer?” YouTube, uploaded by Desiring God, 22 May, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK5sum-LFFA
ten Boom, Corrie. “Quote By Corrie ten Boom”, Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/427508-is-prayer-your-steering-wheel-or-your-spare-tire
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