What is Prayer?

Sitting in the stillness of my living room… the light of a new day just beginning to filter in through the windows… the only sounds I hear are the snoring of my fur baby and the click of the furnace as it comes on to take the chill from the house. Yes, it’s chilly here on this first Saturday of Fall, y’all!

I begin to give thanks for my blessings.  Thank you, Lord for this new day of promise…thank you for my son who is visiting with me…thank you for the beautiful spring flowers that are blooming out of season…thank you for the cooler temperature…thank you for a working furnace! 

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were discussing what prayer is to each of us…frequent, private, usually brief conversations with God throughout each day. 

I pray for traveling safety as I turn the key in the ignition in my car.  I pray for the officer who has a car pulled to the side of the road.   I pray that God will give me wisdom and the right words to say when I talk with someone who is needing encouragement while facing a loss or life-threatening illness.  I pray for mental clarity and peace when making a serious decision. I give thanks for a good doctor’s report.   I give thanks for dear friends that I can call on for favors.   There is so much to be thankful for.

In the dictionary, prayer is defined as (n) a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.  Solemn, is defined as (Adj.) formal and dignified; not cheerful or smiling, serious; characterized by deep sincerity.

Formal and dignified, not cheerful or smiling!  No wonder there are individuals who say they don’t know how to pray or who are uncomfortable praying in front of others in a small group setting.  While I agree that our prayers should be sincere and respectful, I just don’t believe that the God I serve…the Jesus I know… expects me to come to Him all formal and dignified, with a solemn face full of gloom.  

Of course, there are times I come to Him sad and heartbroken blubbering through my tears. I come to Him tired and weary, and I ask for strength. There are times when I come with no words at all and simply say, Jesus, help me!  More often, there are the times I come full of excitement and enthusiasm, child-like, laughing, and jumping for joy! My prayers come from what I am feeling in my heart at any given moment in time.

In the Book of Matthew, we read where Jesus gave instruction on how to pray.  The following is Matthew 6:5-13 from The Message Translation:

 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for fifteen minutes of fame! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. 

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

 Don’t get me wrong. I am not condemning anyone’s form of prayer.  I respect and honor true prayer warriors who come together to pray for specific needs and purposes. I know there are times when we are called to solemnly pray for serious situations.   I’m simply sharing my insight on my daily conversations with the One who created me to be unique, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) 

Finally, I encourage you, the reader to find your quiet place and just simply talk with God.  He’s waiting to hear from you.

…The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. James 5:16 AMP

Darlene Shelton 9-24-22