The Expository Files


 What Is Prayer To You?

Is prayer merely a means to some end that you might desire? Does prayer amount to nothing more than a request hot-line to God? Is prayer some kind of God-911 telephone call for you, only to be used in case of personal emergency? Perhaps prayer is that once-in-a-while phone call to “The Parent” upstairs? Is prayer nothing more than a personal, self-affirming pep-talk? Perhaps the essence of your prayer life is the single-sentence exclamations you utter when you feel like you have nowhere else to turn? Perhaps prayer is indeed that last ditch avenue when all others have been exhausted?

In addition to being a stinging commentary on prayer, these statements offer a realistic look at the prayer lives of many who profess a belief in God and a faith in Jesus Christ. One does not have to look hard for souls that curse God by day in the way they live their lives and beseech God at night for all their heart’s desire.

Please don’t misunderstand me. God desires that we make our requests known to Him. The Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). However, to live as a child of the devil and call upon God as your Father is another story altogether.

Not all are at this extreme with prayer. For many prayer is, “something I am working on.” It is the difficult part of the Christian walk for some. Some find it hard at times to talk with God. Some get busy and prayer time gets buried. Some get lax and their prayers lag. Many lack the devotion and the commitment to pray as they ought—“without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Most desire to do better but are struggling to maintain any semblance of “a prayer life.”

We often struggle with the rote repetitions of prayer, which to us feel so trite and contrived. We struggle with drawing close to God as the “Abba, Father” of our lives (Galatians 4:6). We feel like there is no power, or “Umph!” in our prayers. We feel that our words are inadequate to express the thoughts of our hearts or to be heard in the court of our God. As a result, we don’t pray. We even wonder at times if God hears our prayers. We look for the answers in all the wrong places. We go so far as to entertain doubts about God. All this is because we don’t have an empowered prayer life!

What we most often fail to recognize is that prayer is a learned attribute. The disciples of the Lord said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). It isn’t an inherent ability, but it is an inherent desire. Even the staunchest of atheists often find their conversion to God hinged upon a moment of desperate need and the inexplicable (to them) urge to turn to God for help. For so many, it is when God is their only hope that they wish they would have learned to pray!

Do you desire to learn more about prayer? Do you want to learn how to humbly pray with confidence? Do you want some help overcoming the prayer plateau you face and find some answers to some of the burning questions you have about prayer? Do you desire to put the right kind of POWER in your prayer life? If you know prayer is a weak spot in your walk with God, then don’t just wait for something to change, make something change! Dig into God’s word and let the Lord teach you what prayer is and what it should mean to you!

By Jonathan L. Perz
From Expository Files 16.2; February 2009