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The Essence of Prayer (from an Old Book)

prayer4“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone…” (1 Tim. 2:1)

I’ve come to see prayer not simply as something Christians do from time to time, but as the very essence of the Christian life. At its heart, prayer is walking with God. Prayer is the ongoing dialogue with God that characterizes a life lived in vital relationship to God. Through Jesus Christ, we have access to God — and live our lives as an ongoing experience of God’s presence with us. God speaks to us in Scripture and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We speak to God in prayer. In its essence, prayer is communion with God.

From an old book:

What do we mean by prayer? I believe the vast majority of Christians would say, ‘Prayer is asking things from God.’ But surely prayer is much more than merely ‘getting God to run our errands for us,’ as someone puts it. It is a higher thing than the beggar knocking at the rich man’s door.

The word ‘prayer’ really means ‘a wish directed towards,’ that is, towards God. All that true prayer seeks is God Himself, for with Him we get all we need. Prayer is simply ‘the turning of the soul to God.’ David describes it as the lifting up of the living soul to the living God. ‘Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul’ (Psalms xxv. 1). What a beautiful description of prayer that is! When we desire the Lord Jesus to behold our souls, we also desire that the beauty of holiness may be upon us.

When we lift up our souls to God in prayer it gives God an opportunity to do what He will in us and with us. It is putting ourselves at God’s disposal. God is always on our side. When [someone] prays, it is God’s opportunity. The poet says:

“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.”

“Prayer,’ says an old Jewish mystic, “is the moment when heaven and earth kiss each other.”

Prayer, then, is certainly not persuading God to do what we want God to do. It is not bending the will of a reluctant God to our will. It does not change His purpose, although it may release His power. ‘We must not conceive of prayer as overcoming God’s reluctance,’ says Archbishop Trench, ‘but as laying hold of His highest willingness.’

For God always purposes our greatest good. Even the prayer offered in ignorance and blindness cannot swerve Him from that, although, when we persistently pray for some harmful thing, our willfulness may bring it about, and we suffer accordingly. ‘He gave them their request,’ says the Psalmist, ‘but sent leanness into their soul’ (Psalms cvi. 15). They brought this ‘leanness’ upon themselves. They were ‘cursed with the burden of a granted prayer.’

Prayer, in the minds of some people, is only for emergencies! Danger threatens, sickness comes, things are lacking, difficulties arise — then they pray.”

Prayer is, however, much more than merely asking God for something, although that is a very valuable part of prayer if only because it reminds us of our utter dependence upon God. It is also communion with God — intercourse with God — talking with (not only to) God. We get to know people by talking with them. We get to know God in like manner. The highest result of prayer is not deliverance from evil, or the securing of some coveted thing, but knowledge of God. ‘And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only true God’ (John xvii. 3). Yes, prayer discovers more of God, and that is the soul’s greatest discovery. Men still cry out, “O, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to His seat” (Job xxiii. 3).

— From: The Kneeling Christian by an Unknown Christian (Public Domain).


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