What is prayer?

 

Greetings in Jesus name! As the return of the Lord draws ever closer each day we must, at all costs, keep ourselves ready. Above any other consideration our we must have Spiritual, emotional, and mental Holiness at the top of our Apostolic “To-do” lists. It is that all-consuming thought that has driven me as of late, and pushes me still to minister to all who would hear; HE is coming back for a separated church and prayer is what will make the difference in the end. 

As a pastor I have been privileged to walk into hundreds of prayer services throughout my thirty one years in the church. While each one of these instances should have been the greatest of joys, many turned out to be the most exceptional of disappointments. What would make me feel that way? The truth is, a prayer service without any prayer is, in a word, pointless. Unfortunately there are many who have been in church for years,  or just long enough, to develop the bad habit of thinking that showing up to the prayer service means that you prayed. The fact of the matter is, there is no substitute for effectual communication between a saint of God and their maker. 

Webster’s defines prayer as:

a (1) : an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought    (2) : a set order of words used in praying

b : an earnest request or wish

 

Matthew 26:41 (NLT)

“Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!”

     One of the real issues might be the fact that music has become a cheap substitute for virtuous communication with the master. Music is lovely, but in can never stand in the shoes of talking to God. In our time of modern technology the days when a prayer service consisted of nothing more than the travailing voices of the people seem to have all but disappeared. That’s a shame too because the Word exhorts us in this manner: 

James 5:16 (NLT) 

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

 This lesson could have certainly been title “What Prayer Isn’t.” The list of behaviors exhibited in prayer services (not including prayer) seems to grow all the time.

Prayer is not:

  • Bobbing your head to the music
  • Clapping to the music during a prayer service
  • Sitting with eyes closed, thinking of dinner, while the prayer music plays
  • Swaying side to side to the music
  • Taking a good Spirit filled nap during the prayer service 

What’s the common link with each of these on the list of what prayer isn’t? They do not actually include talking to GOD! That’s the very essence of what prayer is, a personal, unique, and private conversation between you and the Master of the Universe.

 Music is fantastic, and it has its place in Worship, a BIG place. However, music itself, or listening to good music during a prayer service, does NOT equal praying. No matter what song might be played during a prayer service, it can NEVER take the place of the words God would like to hear you say to Him. 

 Consider this: What if you had a birthday party, and everyone you ever cared for showed up, and each of them had headphones on listening to their favorite song while they smiled and bobbed their head to the beat? That’s what a prayer service is when no one prays. We have gathered to celebrate GOD, but if no one actually talks to Him while they’re at the party then what’s the point? How would it make you feel? How does it make HIM feel? 

The opposite of all this is also true. A bunch of cheap talk, endless paragraphs of memorized rhetoric, will also not cut the mustard. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:7 (NLT)

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again.”

Ephesians 6:18 (NASB)

18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

 We need prayer, and we need it now. We need it to be emotional, meaningful, and with a purpose. We need to TALK to God, not just go through motions. We need to speak to HIM as though HE were next to us…because HE is! We need to pray for repentance, holiness, wisdom, understanding, our families, the Church, and our futures. We have HIS promise for our lives and for the healing of our land. We just have to do OUR part:

 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

“14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 

 
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