What is prayer?

What is prayer? praying hands

[“What does it mean to pray for someone? I am curious about this…Do you pray? If so what do you pray for? I appreciate that these question may be deeply personal – so please do not answer them if you do not wish to – but I am curious. I can say that I do not pray, I hope and I wish for things to happen – but I do not pray to god. Is wishing or hoping for something the same as praying for something?”]

Before I go anywhere with this let me just make it clear that this is my personal view and is taken from the Bible so it is Christian rather than Hindu or any other meditative type. I know I have been accused before of using the Bible too much but I can’t possibly answer this without the help of the Bible.

Even though as you say this is personal I don’t mind sharing. There is nothing embarrassing about prayer. People who think that Christianity is only about intellectual ideas and does not include a spiritual side are only seeing one side of God. I do pray to God, as I keep on saying to people, becoming a Christian is about a relationship and not religion. In the same way you and I have good communication and exchange ideas, so we do exactly the same with God. God is portrayed in the Bible as our heavenly father. His attitude is often likened to the attitude of a parent, so if that is true then his desire to communicate with us and asking us to talk to him is very understandable.

If you ask me about specific answers to my prayers, then I’m happy to say that yes God does answer our prayers. Let me give you a personal example. Whilst studying in a foreign country, I had very little money, most of it went on my books etc. At one point I had to pray for more clothes and within a few days I had been given a brand new pair of shoes, a pair of trousers and some money, all from different people. None of them knew that I was in need. The answer was clear for me. So how did this happen? To give you more details, one lady from the Church I attended at the time simply approached me and said “I have just bought this for my son but it is too small for him, will this fit you?” Amazingly enough it was a perfect fit. Now I know we can talk about coincidence and I would not like to argue about that as I can appreciate that one man’s miracle is another man’s coincidence. However this is not the only time this has happened to me. I’m more than persuaded and I would argue that  this is how God works, one person at a time as he does not have favourites. He is interested in all of humanity.

You may have heard of the acronym on prayer before. This is supposed to help and remind people what is to form part of our daily prayer. Here you will find how Jesus is instructing people how to pray in the Gospel of Luke chapter 11. I know it is the Bible but you did ask a specifically Christian question.

Prayer

Luke 11:2–4

5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Praise God – (Our Father who art in Heaven, holy is your name.)
Remember God is in control and he is faithful. – (Your Kingdom come…)
Ask for God’s guidance
Yield to God’s will – (Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.)
Expect God to take care of you. (Give us this day our daily bread…)
Repent, turn from sin and turn to God. (Lead us away from temptation,
deliver us from evil…)

Another one often used is Acronym for ACTS I have used this example in my sermons.

1. Acronym of ACTS: which I prefer to the above explanation even though above is attempt to use Lords Prayer where Jesus is instructing us on how to pray.

Some people receive great blessing in praying through the four steps of the acronym of ACTS:

Adoration (acknowledging God as the Creator of the Universe),

Confession (confessing our own sinfulness and weakness, specific sins),

Thanksgiving (thanking God for His personal benefits to us-forgiveness, family, and material comforts), and

Supplication (asking for what we need.)

I have included some Biblical references related to prayer if you are interested to dig deeper.

Kind regards

Defend the word

Prayer. Biblical References

  • Through Christ. Eph 2:18; Heb 10:19.
  • Pouring out the heart. Ps 62:8.
  • Calling upon the name of the Lord. Genesis 12:8; Ps 116:4; Ac 22:16.
  • Drawing near to God. Ps 73:28; Heb 10:22.
  • Should be offered up
  • In the Holy Spirit. Eph 6:18; Jude 1:20.
  • In faith. Mt 21:22; Jas 1:6.
  • In a forgiving spirit. Mt 6:12.
  • With the spirit and understanding. John 4:22-24; 1Co 14:15.
  • With confidence in God. Ps 56:9; 86:7; 1John 5:14.
  • With submission to God. Luke 22:42.
  • With holiness. 1Ti 2:8.
  • With humility. 2Ch 7:14; 33:12.
  • With truth. Ps 145:18; John 4:24.
  • With desire to be heard. Nehemiah 1:6; Ps 17:1; 55:1,2; 61:1.
  • With desire to be answered. Ps 27:7; 102:2; 108:6; 143:1.
  • With boldness. Hebrew 4:16.
  • Without ceasing. 1Th 5:17.
  • Everywhere. 1Ti 2:8.
  • In everything. Philippians 4:6.
  • For temporal blessings. Genesis 28:20; Pr 30:8; Mt 6:11.
  • For spiritual blessings. Mt 6:33.
  • For mercy and grace to help in time of need. Heb 4:16.
  • Model for. Mt 6:9-13.
  • Vain repetitions in, forbidden. Mt 6:7.
  • Ostentation in, forbidden. Mt 6:5.
  • Repentance. 1Ki 8:33; Jeremiah 36:7.
  • Confession. Nehemiah 1:4,7; Daniel 9:4-11.
  • Praise. Ps 66:17.
  • Thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6; Col 4:2.
  • Seek divine teaching for. Lu 11:1.
  • Standing. 1Ki 8:22; Mark 11:25.
  • Bowing down. Ps 95:6.
  • Kneeling. 2Ch 6:13; Ps 95:6; Lu 22:41; Ac 20:36.
  • Falling on the face. Numbers 16:22; Joshua 5:14; 1Ch 21:16; Mt 26:39.
  • Spreading forth the hands. Isaiah 1:15.
  • Lifting up the hands. Ps 28:2; La 2:19; 1Ti 2:8.
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3 Responses to What is prayer?

  1. misunderstoodranter says:

    But if you were born in China – you would be praying to a different god.

    I also think there is a lot of coincidence – when I have met new people, who are not from this country, or new people who have moved into the area, I might offer them stuff to help them – as I have the empathy to understand that they may be in need of something – when I help them, I can assure you it is not god answering their prayers – it is me making a conscious decision to help them in some way, so that I can create a human bond with them – I think the woman you mentioned in your account did the same thing. However, because you met the woman in church – or she was related to the church in some way it is likely she was religious as well, and she may have used her Christian morals to gift you clothes. Now if you know anything about women, you will notice that they are uncanny at understanding what men need from a practical perspective, and they have the intuition to not only colour co-ordinate men, but also pick the right size clothes for them.

    I have never heard of any prayer that can not be explained by coincidence ever, or human nature. People are remarkable beings, they have evolved to understand other people without even speaking to them – body language is very powerful – never under estimate what your body is saying about you without you even realising, or what you understand from other people’s body language – we evolved to do this because it is essential for our survival – if someone is angry, you don’t have to wait for them to hit you – you know that they will well in advance (well I know I do).

    Do you believe in Aliens from other worlds?

  2. [“But if you were born in China – you would be praying to a different god.”]

    Why must you use such old clichés? If you were born in India you would not be an atheist. This is not logic you use here but a misunderstanding of the truth. The definition of the truth is that it stands tall on its own. It does not need either of us to be there to confirm it. I guess Dr Richard Dawkins didn’t explain that when he made his remarks?

    [“I also think there is a lot of coincidence – when I have met new people, who are not from this country, or new people who have moved into the area, I might offer them stuff to help them – as I have the empathy to understand that they may be in need of something – when I help them, I can assure you it is not god answering their prayers – it is me making a conscious decision to help them in some way, so that I can create a human bond with them – I think the woman you mentioned in your account did the same thing. However, because you met the woman in church – or she was related to the church in some way it is likely she was religious as well, and she may have used her Christian morals to gift you clothes. Now if you know anything about women, you will notice that they are uncanny at understanding what men need from a practical perspective, and they have the intuition to not only colour co-ordinate men, but also pick the right size clothes for them.”]

    This is nothing more than an attempt to rationalise my comment. However, your rationalisation does not answer some very important questions. By the way I have been married for over 13 years so I do know women. I also have a mother and two sisters.
    1. God could have used your rationalisation process to meet my needs
    2. Timing itself is perfect to coincide with my need
    3. Refusal to believe in miracles is not scientific as science does not negate this but just says that it has no opinion on the subject.
    4. I mentioned that there are many such incidences in my previous post, so do you propose that all of them were coincidences. If you remember to add option one and two (which you could not possibly dispute) then you have good reason to start doubting your claim.
    5. Your claim falls flat. Let me explain what I mean by it. By the definition you gave me this is impossible to happen. Another joke for you: a fundamentalist Christian was in a church that was led by a liberal theologian. During one of the services the liberal theologian talked about how he was approached by a conservative Christian who claimed that God did this miracle where the Red sea was parted for Israel to cross on dry land. Now the liberal pastor said that God had guided Israel to cross the Red Sea at the right point where the depth was just ankle deep. At that point one of the congregation who was a conservative Bible believing parishioner shouted “Halleluiah”. The liberal minister was very annoyed with his parishioner and said why are you shouting halleluiah? Did I just not explain that it was not a miracle that enabled them to find shallow part to cross the Red Sea? The parishioner replied, “ I just spotted an even greater miracle, brother. Not only did God guide Israel to the right place to cross the Red Sea but he also managed to drown Pharaoh’s entire army in the water that was just ankle deep.” You see in many of your comments you just can’t have it both ways.

    [“I have never heard of any prayer that can not be explained by coincidence ever, or human nature. People are remarkable beings, they have evolved to understand other people without even speaking to them – body language is very powerful – never under estimate what your body is saying about you without you even realising, or what you understand from other people’s body language – we evolved to do this because it is essential for our survival – if someone is angry, you don’t have to wait for them to hit you – you know that they will well in advance (well I know I do). Do you believe in Aliens from other worlds?”]

    First let me deal with body language. This works well when you are displaying significantly strong signals but it’s not at all easily read when we are running in a normal mode. In other words this does not work when you are not angry, sad or happy.

    How do you explain therefore where people have answers to their prayers when no contact is made? Read the story of George Muller of Bristol and you will find plenty of such examples.

    How about the example where two friends are talking and discussing why his friend was feeling down. He commented that he was upset due to his hearing loss. Immediately his friend was drawn to look at the Bible and picked a Bible verse at random. This is what he got. Mat 10:29 -30 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And one of them shall not fall on the ground apart from your Father’s will.. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

    I know you are going to throw at me yet more statistics such as how this person would have somehow subconsciously memorised this verse without realising it. However you should note that this person does not memorise Scripture. So again we have timing that is perfect that he met his friend at the right time and that he was able to somehow pick this from his memory when these things are quite rare. As I said in my previous reply you can try and rationalise these and that is only natural but are they correct? Now that is a completely different question.

    On the issue of aliens I have to say that I am absolutely and positively shocked at your assertion that there are no aliens. You believe in the string theory (multi universes), you believe in Evolution but you don’t believe in aliens. Many evolutionists would tell you that you are being inconsistent. Or do you believe that only we have evolved in the entire universe? In which case your view on aliens will put you on a direct collision course with many Evolutionary scientists. So make your choice very carefully before you dig yourself deeper. This is very inconsistent with your other views.

    Defend the word

  3. misunderstoodranter says:

    [First let me deal with body language. This works well when you are displaying significantly strong signals but it’s not at all easily read when we are running in a normal mode. In other words this does not work when you are not angry, sad or happy.]

    Put your bible down for a day and read this instead:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Every-Body-Saying-Speed-reading/dp/0061438294/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253196482&sr=8-1

    Written by a man – that collected body language evidence for the FBI to convict criminals – that is evidence!

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