What is Prayer?

As people we have this great need to talk. It is so essential to our relationships that during this time when we can’t meet face to face, we are employing every form of communication available. We phone, email, text, and hold up signs outside windows, doing whatever we can to talk to our friends and families. Maybe you’ve had to get used to new forms of communication like ‘Zoom’ or ‘House Party’. Or maybe you’ve been rediscovering old mediums and have put pen to paper and written a letter.

As people we have a need to talk to those we love. Some of us may do it with more words than others, but all of us have this desire to tell someone who cares for us all about our day, even when we’ve been doing nothing. We are built to talk and to have relationships.

This is the first part of a series of posts looking at the topic of prayer. Prayer is simply a spiritual conversation with God. The first question we are exploring is ‘What is prayer?’ Prayer is taking with God.

The God of the Bible is not an object or thing, he is not some kind of abstract force. Our triune God is a living and personal God; he has names and attributes, he thinks, and loves, and speaks. He has made himself knowable, and through Christ we can have relationship with him. When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray he said to them, “When you pray, say: ’Father…” (Luke 11:2) Prayer is speaking to our Heavenly Father, though the Son, and by the Spirit.

God is a personal God, and he is present. When the Apostle Paul was encouraging his friends to pray about their worries he tells them that, “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5) God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, but he is not distant or far away from his people. In his love God promises be close to us.

Maybe your house is very full at the moment, and you are feeling the stress of everyone living on top of each other. Or maybe you’ve been alone during these weeks of lock down and you are feeling the loneliness that that can bring. But remember that the Lord is near. Wherever you are reading this right now God is there with you. The God of hope is beside you and you can talk to him about your worries. The God of wisdom is close, so share your problems with him. The God of strength and power stands with you, ask him to help you with your challenges. Your loving heavenly father is with you and wants to hear about every detail of your day.

But some of you might be thinking, ‘where do I begin, how do I start this spiritual conversation with God?’ But a really important thing need to remember that prayer is not a human idea, prayer is God’s invitation.

When we start to listen we will realise that God is always speaking to us, through creation, through circumstances, through reading something like this, and above all though the Bible. Prayer is a response to who God is, what he has done in the past and what he has promised for the future. In Psalm 27:8, the great King David says as he prays, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” God starts the conversation. In the Bible he has told us of his love, revealed his goodness, and spoken his will for our lives. So what will you say in response?

Over the next few weeks we are going to be looking at some more common questions about prayer, and thinking practically about what we can do to connect with God in prayer. But now I want to make two suggestions.

First is to listen, what is God saying to you at this moment? I’m not expecting you to have heard a loud audible voice, but what has stood out to you from this post or anything else that you read or listened to today? Is there something you’ve learned about the character of God, or have you been reminded of a promise, or maybe you’ve been convicted of a sin, or been encouraged by some eternal truth. Listen to what God is speaking to you, and then respond with a short simple prayer of your own. It can even be just one or two words, like saying, ‘Thank You’ or ‘Sorry’.

Secondly, over this week you might like to join with us as we read through the New Testament letter of Ephesians. Each day there are some verses to read, and then the question to help you think about how you can pray as a response.

God is inviting you to talk with him today. So let us respond as we pray together;

Father God,
Thank you that you love me, and that through Jesus
I can talk with you in prayer.

Help me to listen to you and teach me to pray.

My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’
And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” Amen


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