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What Is Prayer?

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

(By Ruth Potter)

I’m challenging my heart this year to grow in my relationship with God, through prayer. I hope you will journey with me to discover more about the greatest relationship we can have, and the privilege, purpose and power of prayer in daily life. I'm not coming at this from a position of strength, but from the position of a learner. I've struggled with prayer. There are times when I looked at prayer pragmatically, like a discipline or chore I needed to check off every day. And there are many times when I’ve neglected to honor God or seek His wisdom, and have done things solely on my own strength. I wonder what God thinks of all that. I'm more and more convinced that God seeks relationship more than duty. And this relationship is not focused on my abilities, but on His great love and power!

So what is prayer? Prayer is the talking part of the love relationship between God and me. Communication is essential for building connection and attachment to God. I’m very intentional about investing time and energy into relationships with my husband, children, and those I love, but my relationship with God can get neglected. This relationship is the most important relationship I have. It supersedes my relationship with my nearest and dearest because it is eternal and anticipates the sacred relationship God is restoring and will perfect when I am safely with Him in heaven.

In my readings on prayer, I encountered an intriguing thought; prayer starts with God. God initiates prayer! This supernatural communication originates when the indwelling Holy Spirit prompts us to boldly enter inside the veil and approach God because He has made us His own: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16). When we are seeking to know God's will, God can use Scripture, people, or circumstances to impress us with the need to pray. We need only be sensitive to the Spirit’s nudging to develop the intimate relationship He intends. We can come before God with confidence and joy, knowing that He hears and cares because he initiated this wonderful relationship when He drew us to Him for salvation.

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26, 27).

I wonder what would happen if we ask, “Lord, help me to know how to pray.” Then let Him lead and prompt us with words of praise, thanksgiving, confession, or intercession. We bring God glory by acknowledging His greatness and our great need. He waits to hear our voices, whether it's a song or a cry. We can approach His throne with awe and confidence, because the One who upholds the Universe has made a way for us to bring Him our worship and our cares.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Joyce


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