To pray is to communicate with God. Prayer is the substance of what is communicated to God

Introduction

God knows everything. Nothing we say or do is unknown by Him. No thought or intention escapes His attention. Our attitudes, feelings and disposition are fully known by Him. Why then is there a need to pray? What can we communicate that He does not know already? Jesus said:

“your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him” (Mt. 6:8).

From earliest times there has been a two-way communication between God and man [1] . Despite the separation God imposed, following the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He has maintained that communication so that man does not feel totally isolated and rejected.

Prayer is a responding to God’s invitation to communicate. By praying we draw closer to God, He seems more real and we can tell Him what we want and need.

We communicate with others through more than just the spoken word. The written word, facial expression, body posture, and our behaviour, all send messages to those who can see. In the same way, because God’s eyes “are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3), we communicate with Him about our beliefs, our faith, our desires, and our hopes, by our attitude, our response to situations and circumstances, and our behaviour in general. In that way our whole life becomes a communication with God and we “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17 ).

The principles of prayer

  • Prayer invited
    God has clearly indicated that His people should call upon Him in prayer. [2]
  • Prayer encouraged
    The Bible encourages us to pray. [3]
  • Response promised
    As an encouragement to active prayer God has promised to respond. [4]
  • Prayer answered
    To emphasise that His promises do not fail, God has put on record evidence of His answer to prayer. [5]

The practice of prayer

  • Prayer presented
    Anyone can communicate with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our mediator.[6]
  • Physical posture
    It does not matter how we pray. The Bible records various examples [7]. It’s up to us to decide what is best each time we pray.

    • standing
    • kneeling
    • bowing
    • prostrated
    • hands raised

Mental attitude

Far more important than bodily position is our mental state before, during and after prayer. The Bible has examples 8 of what appear to be essential attitudes and characteristics for prayer:

  • faith
  • obedience
  • truth
  • perseverance
  • forgiveness
  • secrecy

Subject of prayer

There are also examples in the Bible [9] which show what prayer can include:

  • praise
  • thanksgiving
  • confession
  • forgiveness
  • mercy
  • blessing
  • wisdom
  • help
  • God’s will
  • God’s Kingdom

The effect of prayer

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16 ).

Bible references

1 Gen.1:28 ; 3:9
2 1 Kgs. 3:5; 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 50:15; Jer. 33:3.
3 1 Chron. 16:11; Ps. 32:6; Prov. 2:3; Joel 2:32; Mt. 7:7; Lk. 21:36; Jas. 1:5; 1 Jno. 3:22 .
4 Ex. 22:27; Ps. 34:17; Isa. 30:19; Jer. 29:12; Mt. 6:6; 21:22; Jno. 9:31 ; 1 Jno. 5:15 .
5 1 Kgs. 3:9,28 ; Ps. 34:4 ; Jas. 5:17 ; Dan. 9:20-23 ; Lk. 22:42 ,43 ; 2 Cor. 12:8,9
6 Jno. 16:23 ; Rom. 1:8; Eph. 2:18; 1 Tim. 2:5.
7 1 Kgs. 8:22; Neh. 9:2; Mk. 11:2; 1 Kgs. 8:54; Ps. 95:6; Lk. 22:41; Gen. 24:26; Neh. 8:6; Eph. 3:14 ; Num. 16:22; Josh. 5:14; Mt. 26:39; 1 Kgs. 8:38; Ps. 28:2; 1 Tim. 2:8.
8 Mt. 21:22; Heb. 10:22; Jas. 1:6; Jno. 9:31 ; 1 Jno. 3:22; Jno. 4:24 ; Heb. 10:22; Lk. 18:1; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2; Mk. 11:25; Mt. 6:6.
9 Ps. 7:17; Eph. 5:20; Dan. 9:4; Acts 8:22;Heb. 4:16; Joel 2:13,14; Col. 1:9; Jas. 5:13; 2 Thess. 1:11; Mt. 6:10