Prayer is one of those topics when mentioned in Christian circles is acknowledged as important, but often misunderstood. The most basic definition of prayer is “talking with God.” Prayer is not meant to be a monotonous monologue but a dynamic dialogue. Some mistake prayer for meditation, but prayer directly addresses God. In the Bible, we discover that prayer allows us to draw near to God (Psa 73:28), seek His favor (Ex 32:11), and pour out our souls to the Lord (1 Sam 1:15). Prayer is kneeling before the Father (Eph 3:14). Paul wrote that we are to worry about nothing and pray about everything (Phil 4:6-7).
In prayer, we praise God and thank Him and declare our love for Him. In prayer, we enjoy the presence of God. In prayer, we make requests of God and seek His guidance and wisdom. God finds joy in fellowshipping with us in prayer. I believe too often we can overcomplicate prayer and forget how simple prayer is meant to be.
Throughout the Bible, there are numerous examples of prayer and encouragement to pray (see: Lk 18:1; Rom 12:12; and Eph 6:18). In Jude, we are told that God’s people are to be people of prayer: “You, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 20-21). In Matthew 6:9-13, we find a passage where Jesus taught us how to pray.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
James teaches us that “the prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with” (James 5:16). What kind of prayer is being encouraged in this verse? This verse is followed by an example of the sort of prayer encouraged.
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit” (James 5:17-18).
James is referring to 1 Kings 17:1, where Elijah told Ahab that there would be long-term drought. Elijah prayed, and there was a drought. This drought was divine punishment for Israel’s worship of the false god Baal. After three and a half years of drought, Elijah confronts the false prophets of Baal in a showdown on Mt. Carmel. Elijah told King Ahab that it was going to rain, Elijah prayed, and it rained (see: 1 Kings 18:16-45). In context, James draws us to the account from the Old Testament to emphasize the efficacy of prayer and the importance of the one praying desiring to live rightly with God. It’s not the forcefulness with which one prays that determines effectiveness. Instead, the prayer of one desiring to honor God is powerful and effective.
I believe that where there is no prayer, there is no power. Where there is little prayer, there is little power. Where there is some prayer, there is some power. But, where there is much prayer, there is much power. This drives me to honor God with my life and pray.
It is a joy to be in Christ with each of you. I do not know what you are trusting God for in prayer, but let me encourage you to continue to pray and trust God. His answers may not always come in our timing or in our way. However, they are always on time and exactly what we need. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!