What Exactly Is Prayer?

Well, I left out confession and acknowledgement of sin. That’s a biggie

4 Likes

@Interested_in_Prayer

Sig, I appreciate your thorough approach to prayer and dealing with the facets of it. Your reply is why I am asking for input as it is so healthy not to have everyone agree for if we did, we would not be challenged. Say it as it is to you. I want to take it all in.

Where I would underscore a comment and its importance is your quote :

My wife Nancy and I were discussing it today and she spoke of having the mind of Christ. In your quote Sig you mentioned prayer involves being made to be more like Him - I think that is the mind of Christ. You want to think like Jesus who lived for the Father’s glory.

One reason I have addressed this to all who have expressed interest in prayer is because I am challenging us all to step up and be all that Jesus wants us to be. I feel that as Christians we can often dumb down God. What I mean is, as with my feeling there is more to be learned about prayer, we can say that I thought we’d bear more fruit but, oh well, I guess not. No. I feel that we can’t think bigger than God. If I feel there is more to it, maybe my concept of it needs correcting but I don’t feel that His Word would ever tell us not to think too grand.

He wants to give us more than I can ask or think. We put out our prayer requests and it seems as if the main reason someone is struck off the list is because they die! We are His ambassadors. He’s entrusting us with this ministry of reconciliation. Are we doing our job? Maybe what we are doing is not too bad - but I believe He wants us to grow in it. We can do better. I am going to keep digging until I get an answer whatever that means because His ways are higher than mine.

3 Likes

Fantastic @sig

2 Likes

@Interested_in_Prayer
Please remember that RZIM Connect is a public website available to anyone. Any prayer requests you mention could easily be found and read by your employer, family members, and/or friends. Therefore, please be especially careful and respectful in how you mention prayer requests for yourself or other people.

Dear All

I am required to post the “warning sign” above when speaking to the whole group just as a reminder to be discerning in how or who to mention in your posts.

I wanted to let you know that I will really chomp on the 20 some responses regarding what prayer is. If there are more insights, the subject has more room for input. But I feel that I do need to be more candid in what prompted this question.

I will preface what I have to say with the statement that you need to trust that I’m being truthful when I say that I am making no judgemental accusations.

Recently I read in a popular Christian magazine, an article by a woman who began with the question as to why God seems so silent or doesn’t answer prayer but rather than giving an answer, begins making truthful descriptions about who God is.

Is that what we do as Christians with prayer? When prayer is frustrating or dead or going no place, do we just shrug our shoulders and say, “I don’t understand it but hey… I’m not god. Besides, the rest of the Christian community seems content with the subject. All that matters is that I know God is sovereign and He is in control.”

Rather, as I have questioned why He is silent so much in my life or why our prayer lists just keep getting longer, should I investigate if there is something I am missing when it comes to prayer? What is my definition of it and is it correct? Just because no one else is objecting, should I conclude that , that is all there is.

I do feel that there is a more effective, divinely appointed way for me to pray. I am reading all of the prayers in the Bible. I have posted every time prayer is mentioned or alluded to in Scripture. I am reading books on the subject. Why? Because I am discontented that, that is all there is to prayer.

I’m not suggesting that I fashion prayer to take on the image that I have in mind for it. Instead, I want to wipe the slate clean and not have my ideas infect the privileged honor of spending time with my Creator.

Many times I am called a prayer warrior. What a joke! But it is what I aspire to be. Many of you are light years ahead of me. I want to learn from you. I want so much to grow in my prayer life.

Personally, I see prayer like this:

The greater the desperation for God to work, the more we do with our prayer.

I personally find most of my prayers are even silent, almost like passing thoughts. Other times they are auditory. A lot of the times these are praises and when I am feeling a strong urge for God to hear me. And there is fasting and praying, which should be the kinds of things that you really feel like you NEED a miracle here and you fast mostly out of desperation that God will hear your prayers. This is the way I see prayer.

Not to say God doesn’t answer my small silent prayers. On the contrary. God answers my prayers all the time. In this way, you know your prayer is right if it aligns with the Fathers will. And if it aligns with the Fathers will, it will happen as you pray it.

4 Likes

Great Jesse - some new angles thrown into the ring there. Anyone else want to comments on what your understanding of what prayer is?

2 Likes

@Jesse_Means_God_Exists, I agree and likewise oftentimes praying is silent for me, especially if I’m desperate and need immediate help or answers in the midst of situations. Particularly pray silently if people around and can’t be alone. However, praying alone as He taught us to is best. I believe also that praying aloud and with others (“where two or more are gathered…”) is very fruitful.

As far as answered prayers, I believe in constantly waiting and expecting answers - to pray with faith. This is hard at times but we are told to pray with faith nonetheless. Still, it can seem prayers are unheard or unanswered at times. Not sure how to explain this. However, there are also times when we won’t know our prayers are answered until even years later. For example, prayer of mum’s that brother overseas would encounter good Christian man whom he could respect was answered but she didn’t know until years later!

I don’t understand a lot of the how in prayer, but to me it is like a reverent, intimate conversation with Him. One thing that I’m still learning is to pause, meditate, wait to see if someone or something is brought to mind and how best to pray for them. Other times, I may literally be awaken with the urgency to pray about something very specific. On the other hand, simply praying the Lord’s prayer as He taught us to with earnest intent is also important.

3 Likes

@Bible_Memorization_Group and @Interested_in_Prayer

Dear All

I’ve appreciated all of the feedback thus far. It is so uplifting to see the well thought out responses. As I said earlier, I will compile it all and do an in-depth study of what all of you have said.

Suzanne’s response reminded me of something that came to me last spring while in the Philippines and it has really aided my prayer life. When alone, I pray out loud. Why? Because if I’m quiet, my mind drifts or has cryptic sentences so I talk to Jesus like I do a friend. Often I am stopped mid-sentence as I am corrected or get a thought. It has revived my prayer life tremendously. I love the time. I’m still trying to figure out prayer, however.

Folks, this guy is really intent on digging deeper with the Lord regarding what He has for us and His gift to us called prayer. Thus I am going to offer opinions from various sources that maybe some of you would have a comeback. I think my length of a post can be a drawback, so I will try for “less is more.”

One thought that I recently ran into was the belief that, rather than praying for anyone who asked you to, he’d reply that he’d pray to see if the Holy Spirit wanted Him to pray for that situation.

Making even more interesting, he believed that if he was so led and someone had a financial/material need that he could cover with his finances, he wouldn’t need to pray about it but he would just give them out of his resources.

That has to raise some eyebrows!

3 Likes

Guess not of a lot of eyebrows were raised on my last post!

I’m going to shoot frequently because a lot is coming to me from all different directions about prayer and I’d rather have short but more often posts.

Considering the subject of prayer, my mind went to a Keith Green song where he sings, “Make my life a prayer to you. I want to do what you want me to.” He had the right idea, I feel.

2 Likes

Last night I read a book that emphasized being quiet before the Lord which is scriptural- “Be still and know that I am God.”

Yet I have to say this for those out there who could be like me - it doesn’t work for me. I need to talk out loud and commune with Him as I would you. My problem can be illustrated as in my prayer time today; As I was quiet, I was prompted to write to someone today, which is all fine and well but then I found that not only was I composing the letter, I was thinking of what else I had to attend to today.

If I speak out loud, I think about what I am saying and many times, I feel that my prayer is led to take a turn. Sometimes I realize that it is not altogether truthful and I stop and hear my own heart convict itself (Actually, it’s the Holy Spirit within me convicting me!).

It’s really been wonderful for me but I can hear the opposition now and that’s OK. I don’t think that there is a template for prayer.

1 Like

I’ll keep popping posts, though sometimes I wonder if I am just talking to myself!

Is it not Scriptural to believe that, as I pray, either the Lord will correct me or He will answer? I’m not rolling dice and seeing if I got doubles but He tells me that unless I pray, He cannot act.

Also, am I out of line if I ask Him to speak to me more directly more frequently?

Praying for you my friend.

1 Like

Hi Tim, I think that you are right that there is no template for prayer. Speaking to the Lord outloud is not anything to oppose!

I am struggling too lately with distractions that take my mind off the Lord and on to anything else it seems. As far as prayer, I want to encourage you (and myself) with a short story.

I had a friend who’s relationship with Jesus was amazing. She often prayed aloud and spoke to the Lord as if He were standing next to her. When she found she had stage 4 cancer, she refused chemo and said He would tell her what she needed to do. She followed daily what she felt He was saying, accepting some things offered by her doctors and rejecting others. She ate what she heard Him tell her which was mainly raw foods, and did some alternative therapies. She cut off as many distractions and stressful situations as she could. She was able to travel and even went on a few mission trips, she lived years longer that they predicted she could.

Now, this is not health advice, just saying what she did, but her prayer life was constant and what I learned from her is that it is not about getting it right, but loving Him and trusting Him and being all that you are before Him.

It wasn’t all roses, she was angry too and told Him that. Often she would just tell Jesus that this was too hard, that she was scared, she was honest with all off her emotions before Him. She did not censor what she was going through, praying flowery prayers, because He knows anyway!

Her prayer life, was her life. She believed that gardening was prayer, that eating was prayer, that living was prayer.

I have not accomplished making prayer a constant life this way, but it was an amazing. Perhaps we think too much about what prayer is supposed to look like and miss just being in prayer in everything.

Sorry for the long response, but its 4 in the morning here and I am struggling as you are to seek more depth in prayer, in being who we are made to be, and that said, I’m pretty sure I’m making it harder than it needs to be. There is something to that taking our thoughts captive to Christ, and in itself is prayer I think. Many blessings on your search for prayer that is authentic Tim!

3 Likes

Ole Hallesby, a Swedish Bishop of beginning of the 20th Century wrote a little very good book on prayer.
There he wrote that prayer is primarily letting God in into your life situation. He emphasizes that prayer corresponds to faith in that it perfectly resembles how faith through grace works even in situations where I don’t feel strong or able at all.
The psalms illustrate this too.
Just a few thoughts adding to all the good things you already brought up.

3 Likes

Dearest Tim,

No, I don’t think it is out of line to ask the Lord to speak more frequently or directly.

When you don’t understand a loved one, you ask them to clarify. You ask because your love them, you don’t want to misunderstand or unintentionally cause harm to them through ignorance.

How much more do we need to ask God for understanding…for his thoughts are far beyond ours…and his ways superior to ours.

I love the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs we are continually exhorted to “with all your getting get wisdom, get understanding!” Where can we get wisdom snd understanding from? Where can we get insight, discernment and discretion? Only from the Lord our God. He has promised, if we seek Him with our whole heart…we will find Him.

So, dear one in Christ…seek, knock and ask. He has told us to do so…He is faithful…He cannot lie.

1 Like

Hello Tim and praying sibs…

Here is a letter I wrote to my daughters after a very unique / direct answer to prayer.
May it be a blessing and encouragement to you all in some small way.

Hello my dear daughters,

I am writing this to share a small miracle which happened to me last week. My intention in sharing it is to encourage you to trust God to work miracles in your lives. Small or large!

Last Tuesday morning, I woke up and for some reason I looked at my wedding/engagement ring….to my shock and dismay there was no diamond in it. I had no clue when it might have fallen out. The first thing I did was search the bed…which then led to a search of just about every place I could think of in the house. I searched the car. Brian emptied the vacuum cleaner and carefully sifted through the contents. Of course, no diamond.

The impossibility and unlikelihood of finding it began to sink in. Definitely, it was a situation which referenced the proverbial “trying to find a needle in a haystack”! ( It would be nice if I knew which haystack to look in! )

I had been at church Sunday night and all morning on Monday. So, I asked if someone could look around the areas I had been. Of course, no diamond. Humm…very disappointing.

We called the insurance company. Well…blah, blah, blah, blah…”They would need an estimate on the cost of replacing it.” And of course…a big chunk of change as the deductible. More whhhhaaaa!!! going on inside me. ( Thankfully, Brian wasn’t berating about it all…just indicated it was a major bummer.) It’s never a convenient time to fork out money for something you had already purchased.

Okay…well…let me see…I made meatballs on Sunday night…we hadn’t started to eat them. Maybe the diamond went into the meatballs? Huummmm… We will be eating those very delicately!!! Meanwhile, I’m thinking how many diamonds go down the drain…or down the crapper…or out in the trash?

Later the same day, I drive out to Sechelt to get an estimate. The jeweler examines the ring. Says, “Interesting. This setting is one of the most secure settings.” I say, “Any idea why it came out then.” He says “Well, looks like there are some gouges in the casing. I will get an estimate and I will need to talk to the insurance company.”

Something in the way he said this made me feel like he was thinking I’d dug the diamond out and was trying to get another through the insurance company. Not a very pleasant feeling. I left feeling full of shame for something I wasn’t guilty of as well as, feeling bad for the loss of the diamond. Now I started to worry about what it might cost to replace it…if the insurance people decided I was trying to scam them.

On my way home, I started to talk with God about my feelings…saying “You know I didn’t do anything wrong.” I started telling Him how bad I felt about losing the diamond…I expressed the impossibility of finding something so small…especially when I had no clue where it had fallen out. I talked to God about the fact that I felt guilty even praying to Him about something so “material”… saying….”I know…this is the stuff the world values greatly…but, it doesn’t have the same value to you, God.” “Yet, I am living in this material world …where these things do have value”…but, I don’t want it to have too much importance”….so on…. And so on…

Bottom line…I just said, “ God…I don’t have a clue where I lost it…I don’t know where to look. I don’t know if it is possible for it to be found.” “You know where it is, God…If it is possible to find it, lead me to where it is.” “I know it’s not impossible to you.”

I drove home. Came in the house. I had stuff to do…like heat up the meatballs and make rice. In the back of my mind…I was thinking “when you get a moment…check here…check there…you haven’t looked there yet.”

For some reason, I felt led into the living room and I sat down on the couch. In my mind, I heard “…look in that basket.” (I have two sea grass baskets under the coffee table.) I said back…in my mind…”I’ve looked in there.”

In my mind, I heard…”I know…but, you didn’t take every out of the basket. Look again, by taking everything out.” So, I answered skeptically, …”Okay…I will take everything out of the basket.”

So…I take everything out of the basket and…??? …I see a tiny little glint. I said…in my mind…in amazed disbelief… “No!? Really?” I’m afraid to believe that I actually saw that teensy, weeny glint! Could it really be?

Almost with a chuckle, I heard, in my mind… “ Yup! Really!!”

I looked down in a crevice made by the woven sea grass and there it was…my diamond! Needless, to say I was amazed and overjoyed. I felt totally blown away by finding the diamond (which was really quite an impossibility)…but, I was also blown away by this experience of God leading me directly to it. He who knew exactly where it was. Even though, I felt bad about praying over something so worthless in He eyes…He honoured my faith and trust in Him. (I’d prayed He would lead me to it not more than 20 minutes before.)

After, I had shared my excitement with a few people who knew I had lost it(…like my sister Catherine…and the people who had looked at the church), there was another whisper in my mind. “I’m happy you trusted me.” “I’m glad you’ve had this undeniable, real experience of me intervening within an impossible circumstance.” “It’s a good thing!” “But, there is something spiritual to be learned from this experience beyond your experience of me.” ” This is an object lesson.” “Don’t forget… how much I care about lost souls.” “ They are precious and valuable to me.” “I will keep seeking them…until they are found…and returned to me.” “ I feel great joy when they are found and restored.”

I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you. I love you. More importantly…God loves you.

Put your trust in Him.

Jesus said…

“Ask and it shall be given…

Seek and you shall find.

Knock and the door shall be opened unto you.”

I have found this to be true over and over again. If you doubt or feel sceptical…take even that to Him. He won’t shame you. He can handle your doubts.

In exchange, He will give you faith.

Love, Mom

3 Likes

Dame Julian of Norwich said :
“Prayer unites the soul to God”

I know prayer is the connection to the source of Peace , Forgiveness, Comfort , Direction , Love , Joy , Wisdom and Fellowship. These things which can only be found in God.

2 Likes

Tim_Ramey

Gee, there has been such tremendous feedback - it’s great to soak it in.

I’d like to ,mention aspects of what I’ve heard, though they will not be in the right order.

@Andreas_Wieland, thanks for the suggestion. Actually that book, which is simply called “Prayer” by Hallesby in a great little book that I’ve re-read many times. I remember an example of how we incorrectly treats prayer. He says that we often treat prayer like going to the doctor
and going into detail what is wrong with us and before the doctor tells us what to do, we turn around and leave. How often we dump on the Lord but don’t wait for His answer. Thanks for the suggestion. If any of you have never read it, you should. Its a great little book.

Kathy, I really think that you are going through the deep search regarding prayer that I am. I agree that prayer should incorporate our whole day as we are told to pray without ceasing. Where I lose it is where I am about my day and I get so focused and not used to including Jesus into my day to day life. That it is a new learning curve for me. We are making it harder than it needs to be. But where am I still missing it because I don’t hear Him speak directly to me very often? I want to hear Him and know His voice more. I want to love Him so much and accomplish what I’m missing out on in prayer. I want to be all that Jesus wants me to be and in prayer, I know there is more. Kathy, join me in all that He has for you. Thanks for the illustration of your friend. She was heading in the direction that I seek. Thanks for posting at 4 in the morning!!!

Alisha, you hit the nail on the head with your quote - I want a deeper union!

Billie, I knew you’d find the diamond. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. It was such a good example as to what I aspire to. “Look over there…”, “Talk to him…” “Don’t take a right as you normally do but head this way instead…”, “Say this to that individual…” etc. I don’t want Him to be part of my day, I want to be part of His day for me. I have habits and routines but how He wants to speak but I don’t hear Him.

In your story, you were focused and expectant and you were faithfully guided. It was interesting to see where you used your mind as to where the diamond could be. It’s good to use the minds that He gave us but, in this case, He spoke to your mind and there is where it was.

The diamond was such a good illustration as well, since He is our gem. How He wants us to find Him with all of our heart that you exhibited Billie, in finding the diamond that had more value to it than its face value because it was your wedding ring. I want to look for my Lover in the same way. What a great story. How timely it was! (By the way, is Brian feeling good for the trip coming up soon?)

Thank you all of you post-ers as this all helps as I desire to grab hold of all that He has, at least for me, regarding prayer. The truth of it is underscores because I sense deep down “You’ll never be any closer to Jesus. It’ll be the same as it is now, You know that, Just forget it and be content what you have.” The enemy is shooting his darts at me trying to bring me down. How I need to hold the shield. For any of you on this journey with me, expect crap thrown at you. It indirectly tells me that the search is worth it because the enemy doesn’t like it.