By Tom Savage

Thank you for taking the time to read this and future articles on prayer. As we continue on this pilgrimage, we call the Christian life, each of us is at a different stage in our personal prayer life – a consistent veteran, an on again off again pray-er, or we pray on an as-needed basis.

No matter the subject, it is always a good idea to review the fundamentals. In baseball, the fundamentals are throwing, catching, hitting, etc. In prayer, a good fundamental to review is – what is prayer? So, let’s consider that question.

Prayer is talking to God

You have probably said that, I have said that, Billy Graham has said that, Mother Teresa has said that. Prayer should not be a difficult thing even if you are a new Christian or you have not prayed very much in the past. We could say that prayer is both talking to God and listening to God.

Prayer is talking things out with God

It is talking things out with God to get His perspective on things. Some people are very good at “thinking out loud.” As they reveal in words what they are thinking in their heart or in their head, they get to hear what they think and often modify what they thought was accurate. Like “talking things out” with someone to hear what you are thinking helps you articulate what is on your heart, the same is true with your heavenly Father. Talking things out with God, especially audibly, is very effective.

Prayer is an opportunity to share secrets

Prayer is an opportunity to share secrets with Him we cannot, should not, or will not tell another person. In prayer we have a perfect listener who loves us and will be absolutely confidential with hearing what we say.

Prayer is a demonstration and a declaration

Prayer is a demonstration of our dependence on God. When we pray, we are demonstrating we cannot do “this” alone and should not try to do this alone. Prayer is a declaration of our dependence on God because we actually express this dependence on God in words.

Prayer is an opportunity to be authentic

Prayer is an opportunity to be totally authentic with the One who knows everything about you and yet still loves you and wants to hear from you. Think about it. God is the only one who knows everything, absolutely everything about you and He still loves you and wants to hear from you.

Prayer is my response to God

Prayer is my response to the One is everywhere present. He is here, right now, all the time with me. He is there, right now, all the time with you. We do not have to ask Him to be present. He is with us. We do not have to ask Him to listen. He is listening. Prayer is my response to His presence. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15). 

Prayer is thinking more about God than myself

We have a perfect example of this in the model prayer. “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven… For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:9-13). The prayer begins and ends with a focus on Him.

Prayer is the way to know God more personally

The same way talking to a human friend is a way to get to know your friend more personally, the same is true with God. Prayer is a way to get to know God more personally and is a way to deepen and develop your friendship. This dialogue with God will never end and should never end because we are unequal partners in this friendship. He does things we cannot do. In fact, He can do everything we can do better than we can do them. Yet, He calls us to partner with Him in this work. He calls us into this work choosing to not do what He has called us to do.

Prayer is a continuous journey

I think it is safe to say none of us will ever master prayer in this life. It is continuous because we are always learning, we want to keep growing in this area, and He wants to keep hearing from us.

It is your turn

What is prayer to you? How do you describe prayer? Billy Hanks has said, prayer is an alternative to worry (Phil. 4:6), a means of avoiding temptation (Matt. 26:41), a means of great accomplishment (James 5:16). I would love to hear from you about how you describe prayer. Have a great day!