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What is prayer?



What is prayer? This is not to ask for a dictionary definition for prayer. Rather it's to ask what prayer is for someone walking in a relationship with God.

What is prayer to someone walking in a relationship with God? At its most fundamental level, prayer is a Christian's line of communication with God. Yet, as a Christian grows, it becomes much more.


Prayer alters our perspective on life:

  • Prayer breaks off our communion with this world and establishes us in communion with God.
  • Prayer releases our eyes from our troubles to focus our eyes on God our solution.
  • Prayer is our upward look!


Let's go back to where prayer began. The Book of Beginnings in the Bible is called Genesis. The origin of much of what we see and experience in our physical lives on earth today is revealed in Genesis.

In Genesis we read that, after Cain killed Abel, things looked bleak for the future of righteousness and faith among mankind. But then Eve gave birth to another child in the place of Abel.

We hear of it in Genesis this way,

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, "For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed." And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.

Genesis 4:25 - 26 - NKJV


What happened soon after God gave Eve another son in place of Abel? Men began to call on the name of the Lord. In other words, prayer started.

This was a glorious moment in history when men began calling on the Lord. It was a breakthrough moment. It was an establishing moment. As a result, prayerfulness became the way of the people of God. It set them apart from the people around them.


I want you to discover two precious things about prayerfulness:

  • Prayerfulness gives God's people a different way about them than the people of this world.
  • Prayerfulness lets God's people live with an upward look instead of being captive to the outward look.


It's living with the advantage of this uplook that differentiates the man or woman of prayer from those who, without a relationship with God, only have an outlook.

We hear this in Psalms. The Psalmist has a relationship with God that he expresses in his devotional time - his prayer time - with the Lord. He calls upon the Lord. He looks towards the Lord.

A good example of this is presented to us in Psalm 18,

I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

Psalm 18:1 - 3 - NKJV


We need to follow along with the Psalmist in his expressions of trust and dependence on God. We need to take hold of his devotional words and make them our devotional words. We need to voice the Psalms before the Lord and, in doing so, make a commitment to what they are expressing

Psalm 62, for example, provides us with a devotional passage that, if we make it our own, will grant us an uplook in life which no one and nothing can take from us. Here it is as we have it in the New King James translation,

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:5 - 8 - NKJV


Let me relate something that happened to me in order to give you an insight into what I'm talking about.

I was attending a minister's breakfast and a minister friend asked, "How are things going?" I answered, "Lots of good things are happening." He immediately responded to this with, "Like what?" At this I struggled embarrassingly to reply.

Afterwards I pondered the incident, wondering about my struggle for a reply. Then I realised what was behind it. You see, I'm excited about everything, for in everything I've developed an upward look - my prayerfulness - and so in everything I see God shining down His favour.

The result is, that for me it seems like everything is about to burst out into something good and special at any moment. This is why I said, "Lots of good things are happening." And this is why I struggled to start giving a list.


Isaiah the prophet sums up the dynamic effect of this type of prayerfulness when he says before the Lord,

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

Isaiah 26:3 - NKJV


Paul the apostle exhorts us on how to live in this type of prayerfulness and in this sort of dynamic when he writes,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 - 7 - NKJV


All of us start off as Christians with a rudimentary and undeveloped prayer life. Don't leave it there. Grow in prayer. Develop a relationship with the Lord of prayerfulness.

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