I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and
my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
- Psalm 116:1-2
And this is the confidence that we have toward him,
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we
have the requests that we have asked of him.
- 1 John 5:14
Prayer. As a follower of Jesus, prayer is a part of life. It is an integral part of the most important relationship we will ever experience. It’s preached on, demonstrated, incorporated in both corporate worship and in our personal time with God. But truly, what is the heart of prayer?
What is Prayer?
“Prayer is the expression of a relation to God, a yearning for divine communication. It is the outward and upward flow of the inward life toward its original fountain. It is an assertion of the soul’s paternity, a claiming of the sonship which links man to the eternal.” - E.M. Bounds
Prayer is an action, not at attitude. It is talking to God. Not simply a passing thought, but an intentional message conveyed to the One True God. It is direct communication to the Heavenly Father, through the finished work of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph 6:18). Not only is prayer an act of communication, but it is also an act of faith. Each time we come before the throne with a humble heart (James 4:10), it is with acknowledgement that we are only able to do so because of the work He did on our behalf through His Son, Jesus Christ. The movement of our hearts to shift our affections to God and away from ourselves and this world is the inner workings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds. Did you know, that if we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, that we can even be confident of the Holy Spirit’s work to pray for us in the moments where we can’t seem to find the right words? Romans 8:26 says, “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.” Sisters, prayer is powerful (James 5:16) and available to us each and every moment (1 Thes 5:17).
“Prayer is an open door which none can shut.” -Charles Spurgeon
Prayer is also worship. Prayer recognizes our dependence upon Him and places us in a posture to seek His face (Psalm 27:7-8; 1 Chron 16:11). It is an opportunity to ask the Lord to examine our hearts and recognize that He knows us more intimately than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:23). As believers, prayer is the means of deepening our relationship with our Lord and Savior. It is not something we turn to simply in times of crisis or remorse, but in humble dependence all of our days and each of our moments (1 Thes 5:17). Dear sisters, I pray that our hearts grow in their desire to turn to prayer as our first response rather than our last resort in all circumstances.
How do we Pray?
In a world where comparison and self-reflection dominate, it is easy to get tripped up in wondering if our prayers are sufficient? Are they done the right way? Have I said the right words? Here is the beauty of prayer! It takes that mind set of “How am I doing?” and flips it on its head. There are no magic words to be spoken a specific way, but simply a shifting of the focus from ourselves to the good and holy character of the One we are talking to. How do we pray? We pray with a humble and contrite heart in the name of Jesus (Psalm 51:17).
A healthy and impactful prayer life is focused NOT on pleading with God to align His will with what we prefer or see as “best,” but time spent accurately seeing God in His perfection and His closeness. It is seeking to align our thoughts, desires, and plans with His. It is in prayer that we come before Him to praise and thank Him, but also to petition (or ask), confess and repent, and intercede on behalf of others. A helpful way to shift our focus to the Lord in our prayer time, and to align our hearts and minds with His, is to start with speaking back to Him specific praise of who He says He is. It is in humility, a right view of God and therefore a right view of self, that we can confidently come to the Lord and be assured that He hears our prayers (1 John 5:14). Although we must keep in mind, since God is Sovereign (complete power and authority over all) and all knowing, His response to our prayers may be different than we may have hoped or expected. Our scope is so limited and yet we are coming to God, who knows ALL and sees ALL. His will is always best and Romans 8:28 says He is working “for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” We can be confident that as His daughters, He hears us and is acting on our behalf.
1. In light of what we have pondered about prayer, how is your current prayer life a reflection of your dependence on God? Are there specific areas He is calling you closer to Him?
2. What attributes of God do you need to meditate on as you come before the throne? Is it His faithfulness, His steadfast love, His mercy? Move into your own personal time of prayer with the Lord and spend some extra time in humble adoration.
Heavenly Father, You alone are worthy of honor and praise. There is nothing in You that is not good and Your steadfast love endures all the days. Thank You Father for Your kindness to allow us to come to You in prayer at any moment for all the days you have given us this side of eternity. Thank You that we can share our innermost thoughts and feelings and ask You to examine and test what is in our hearts that we may grow in our likeness to You. We pray today Lord, that each person receiving this devotional has a longing to grow deeper in love with You and to spend time with You in prayer. Father, help us to come to You humbly that we may accurately see You, ourselves, and the world around us. Give us a hunger for time with You, Lord. It is in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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