What is prayer?
What is prayer? Prayer is defined in Webster’s Dictionary 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 (3): the act or practice of praying to God or a god
People from all points of history and from across all cultures regardless of religion believe in a Supreme Being called God. The true God of the universe and all creation is the God of the Scriptures or the Bible — the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who is also the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Exodus 3.6) According to the Bible we communicate to God through prayer.
As Christians, we do not pray to a person or a human being like us but we relate, commune, and communicate to a Higher Being who is able to hear us, deliver us, and do something about our situation or problem. That’s why we pray.
We ought to approach God all the times in a serious, solemn way or posture. This posture for prayer should be of the heart being fully aware of who He is and who we are. Because God is Omni-present or all-present (Psalm 139), we can draw near him anywhere we are at any give point in time. There is no distance in prayer, as they say. Whether you are at home with your family, at work in your career, at church in your ministry, at the road traveling to get somewhere, or just resting and doing nothing else, you can talk to God about anything troubling your heart and be assured that He can and will reach out to you.
What is prayer in the Bible? Prayer is the lifeline connecting man to God, and it is through prayer that we are able to see many things change -the natural to the supernatural, the seen from the unseen, the impossible to the possible, and transitioning problem to solution, darkness to light, lack to abundance, failure to success, sickness to health, death to life, and brokenness being completely restored.
Prayer changes things and more than that, prayer changes hearts and transforms lives. We know that these are just a few things of what praying does. Our God is a relational Being and desires to be in an intimate relationship with man. He created man for fellowship, communion, intimacy, and a loving relationship.
Do you have someone in your life right now that you value and hold dear in your life? Is he a spouse, parent, child, best friend, mentor in your life? Do you spend time with him and talk to him? Do you share your life with him and make him a part of you? Do you lavish him with your love and affection and vice versa?
Our God also desires the same love and relationship you shower to your loved one. And even more because He created you (Jeremiah 1:5), saved your soul (John 3.16), and loves you unconditionally (Jeremiah 31.3).
It is through prayer that we establish this communication, commitment and relationship with our Maker. There are many different types of prayer and models of prayer to use while communicating with God.
Type of Prayers
A-Adoration is a prayer type where we praise God, His goodness and lovingkindness and His attributes, worship Him in the beauty of His holiness, and just proclaim and declare His power and wondrous works.
(Psalm 8:1) “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!”
C-Contrition or Confession is one of the types of prayer where we humbly repent of all our sins, violations of His commands, and commit to turn away from sins – sinful thoughts, beliefs, words, emotions, actions, habits, practices, lifestyle, and ways.
(Psalm 51:1-2) “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.”
T-Thanksgiving is a prayer type where we just bless and thank His name for providing all our needs, protecting us from all harm, granting us favor, helping us from our troubles, and loving us lavishly. We thank Him for all the blessings He poured forth upon our lives and for everything we are believing for in the future.
(Psalm 107.1) “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
S-Supplication is a type of prayer where we cite our requests and petitions. Other human beings no matter how good, kind, rich or powerful cannot at all times help us in our specific needs even if they want to. But, God is Omni-potent or all-powerful, He can help us for everything we need and He is more than able to give us more than we can ask, think or imagine.
(Psalm 28.1-2) “To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock: Do not be silent to me, Lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications When I cry to You, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.”
There are also different prayer postures we can use to usher in prayer into our lives and help us connect well with our God. Though we have established
earlier that we can pray anywhere and anytime and whatever we are doing, still we can devote a specific time or hour per day in prayer in quiet time, which can be at the beginning of the day or the end of the day.
Set aside a time where no one, not even your family, can interrupt you. Choose a quiet place where you can be alone with God and shut off all distractions like phones, internet, TV, radio, etc. You may use the above prayer type – ACTS and with various prayer postures.
Eyes Closed – Our God is an Invisible God and cannot be seen with our naked eyes but we can feel and experience His presence. When we close our eyes in prayer, we are totally focusing on Him and connecting to Him spirit-to-Spirit. With your eyes closed you are also able to shut off the external influences and just focus on Him. It will be easier to quiet your mind, heart, body and spirit and just be at one with Him.
Hands Folded Together – One of the prayer postures that intimacy is being built and we are aligning our body through our hands to speak and commune with God. When you do this, you are exercising your faith that God is truly listening to you and your prayers.
(Luke 18.13) “ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
Open Praying Hands/ Hands Raised Up – When you raise up your hands, you are exalting God and His mighty name. It is also reminding God of His promises to you. In the biblical era, they cut their hands and blood flows and raised up their hands to remind God of their covenental promises to them.
(Psalm 63.4) “Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.”
(Psalm 134.2) “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless the Lord.”
Knees Bowed Down – Even in biblical times, man on bended knees implored God seriously through this prayer posture. It is an act of humility and surrender putting God above you and everything concerning you. Notice the difference when you pray with your knees bowed down.
(Acts 20.36) “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.”
(Luke 22.41-43) “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. “
(Ephesians 3.14-18) “ For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— “
Lie Flat – This is a prayer posture where you are resting, basking, and enjoying the presence of God in a relaxed position. You can hear Him better in this posture and God can rejuvenate, revive, restore, and reveal things to you.
Prostrated Flat on Face – In the Scriptures, the Jewish people and the New Testament Christians pray this way especially when they are fasting in ashes and sackcloth. This is the prayer posture that best exemplifies total surrender and trust to God. Many people do this when they do not know what to do with their life and circumstances, and all they can do is to lie flat on their face seeking God, His will and His ways upon their life.
(Deuteronomy 9.18) “And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.”
(Matthew 26.39) “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
There are also different times people pray.
Early Morning Prayer – You may pray at the time or period where you can hear God clearly and commune with Him unhindered. It can be early in the morning before your family wakes up or when they have already left the house for school or work. Sometimes our mind is a lot clearer early in the morning so we are better able to focus on God and hear from Him.
(Mark 1.35) “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Night Prayer – You may choose to pray at night when all the chores, work or tasks have been completed, and your family are all asleep. Some people are able to focus a lot better at the end of the day. They have a time of quiet and peace when everyone in the household is already asleep.
(Luke 6.12) “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”
(Nehemiah 4.9) “Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”
Daytime Prayer – You may also pray in-between tasks like lunch hour or dinner break whichever suits you. Going out to your car or in the restroom is a good time to pray. This can be easily done at work especially if you have a bible in your car, a small one in your purse or briefcase or even in the desk drawer at work. This will make it very easy for you to connect with God. The important thing to remember is to devote some time for daily prayer and quiet time.
(Psalm 42.8-9) “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—A prayer to the God of my life.”
Driving in the Car – If you have a commute to and from work prayer while you are in the car is also very good. With the radio off you are able to focus if you are in the car alone.
For those who have been involved in prayer for some time you can pray at any time, any place, whether it’s noisy or quiet. This takes practice but you’ll be able to get to this point soon if you commit to praying every day.
It is also encouraged to read the Bible prior to your prayer time or immediately after. Remember that one of the primary ways of hearing from God is through His word so reading the scriptures (Joshua 1.8) is an important part of prayer. God cannot be separated from His Words which is the Bible so He will never answer you in any way that is not in keeping with the scriptures.
In the different seasons of your life, whether you are happy or depressed, abundant or depleted, healthy or sick, peaceful or confused, focused or distracted, strong or weak, in all those times, you need to pray to God as He said in His Word that we pray unceasingly. (1 Thessalonians 5.17)
Yes, praying without ceasing seems to be an impossible task but as you pray daily you will find yourself praying just about all the time.
More than receiving answers and miracles to our prayers, prayer can deepen our walk with God and teach us to fully depend on Him alone. God will continue to captivate you with His love and you will be asking for more of His abiding presence and lovingkindness that in the end, you will just approach Him in prayer just wanting to seek His face (1 Chronicles 16.11), hear His voice, experience His presence and be in His pleasure, nothing more, nothing less. We hope that you will give this a try and find out for yourself what praying does.
If you would like a list of prayers, click here