Sep 1, 2009, 5:35 AM
Many Christian believers define prayer according to their religious experience and what they are taught.I will in this write up give a traditional definition, look into prayer in the Old Testament, prayer as taught by Jesus and lastly the fundamentals of the Christian believers’ prayer concept.
WHAT IS PRAYER?
Prayer is defined as the raising of mind and heart to God, to praise Him, adore Him, and beg of His all graces and blessings.The whole integral component of the human person is involved in prayer, i.e. mind and heart.Prayer is directed to God, the supreme and Almighty creator of heaven and earth.Prayer is said in all seasons and times.
PRAYER IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Prayer is one of the great stable elements in the history of the Old Testament.The great prayer of old is that God’s plan might be fulfilled on earth.The people of Israel who believed in a monotheistic God prayed to obtain the intervention of God in their personal and in their national lives.The entire Old Testament is one great prayer asking God to be specially close to them (Exodus 42:13).In realizing this, the people of Israel know they are praying for their greatest wish to God who can hear their prayers and answer them (2 Sam. 7:24).In the Old Testament we have prayers that God answered and accepted.Also there were prayers that God rejected.The basis here is that the acceptability of prayer is determined by the quality of faith dwelling in the heart of the person praying and God’s compassion.
PRAYER AS JESUS TEACHES IT
In the New Testament when we look at prayer we see how Jesus views prayer and teaches about it especially in the gospel of Matthew 6:5-8.In Jesus’ teaching and concept of prayer here, two things are noted.Firstly is that all prayer must be offered to God, our heavenly Father.The basis of this prayer is that God is the one who hear all prayers whether they are long or short, said verbally or not.The ultimate objective of prayer is that let God’s will be done.Any prayer therefore that seeks to change God’s will is a wrong prayer.The center of prayer in Jesus’ teaching is God.
Secondly in Jesus’ concept of prayer, God is more ready to answer our prayer than we are to pray.As our God, He is ready to answer our prayer in His own way. (Mathew chapter 5 and 7).So we can’t in prayer rush or hasten God.Someone remarked that the important thing about prayer is that it is meant to change the life of the believer and not God.God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.God does not change.He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 1:17)
In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer and in it the most important aspect is at the beginning.God is here acknowledged as our loving heavenly Father.Sometimes when believers pray this prayer they loose sight of this.Sin and our own indifference of God lead us to loose sight of God’s love.God really loves us and above all, God wants our love too.In this prayer that is taught by Jesus we should think more of God as a good father who is interested in us and wants us to tell Him everything that is our desire.
There are different kinds of prayers namely, vocal prayer, mental prayer, prayers of petition, prayer of praise and thanksgiving etc.All these forms of prayer are varied good and useful.We are often encouraged by priests, teachers, parents and guardians to pray and be involved in all these forms of prayers.All of them are useful and helpful because in their different forms we receive answers from God.Only that the prayers that are offered need to be sincere prayers coming from the heart and addressed to a loving God who is ready to answer the prayers.
In prayer, it is God who is the most important and not the one praying.Waiting for an answer to prayer is part of prayer as the very waiting means that we are putting God first.Some great spiritual writers comment that we should be patient with God and allow Him to come in His own time.St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians states, “Do all this in prayer asking God’s help.Pray on every occasion as the spirit leads.For this reason keep alert and never give up, pray always for all God’s people”.(Eph. 6:18).For the Christian believer, prayer should be a regular and constant activity in his or her life.Prayer is his/her daily spiritual food which he/she should live on.