5 on 7: Understanding Prayer
God wants to communicate with us always. Prayer is an incredibly powerful thing, because it is a conversation with Him, letting Him know our feelings and an invitation for Him to work in us. We can get so distracted by the unknown or our immediate needs or problems that we use prayer as a last ditch effort to right our situations, but that isn’t what prayer was made for. It was made for continuous, rich connection with our Father.
Things We Need to Understand About Prayer
- Prayer brings wisdom. We need to ask God’s advice and yield to what God says. The fact is, we can allow ourselves to be ruled by bad choices or we can make the decision to choose right paths. Asking God for the wisdom to choose what is right is a necessity, not just a “good idea.” Let’s take a look at a conversion between King Solomon and God in 1 Kings 3:9-11 (CEV): “Please make me wise and teach me the difference between right and wrong. Then I will know how to rule your people. If you don’t, there is no way I could rule this great nation of yours. God said: Solomon, I’m pleased that you asked for this. You could have asked to live a long time or to be rich. Or you could have asked for your enemies to be destroyed. Instead, you asked for wisdom to make right decisions.” Solomon asked God for wisdom instead of riches, and he was rewarded for it. God wants to advise us and help us live out the plans and purposes He has for us. That is a valuable part of prayer, but there are many facets of prayer that we tend to forget or push aside because the results aren’t what we wanted or expected.
- Prayer requires persistence. How many times have you prayed for something, not gotten an immediate answer, and given up? Unfortunately, we’ve all done this at one time or another – it is too easy to do so. Luke 18:1-8 (TPT) explains: “One day Jesus taught the apostles to keep praying and never stop or lose hope. He shared with them this illustration: ‘In a certain town there was a civil judge, a thick-skinned and godless man who had no fear of others’ opinions. And there was a poor widow in that town who kept pleading with the judge, “Grant me justice and protect me against my oppressor!” ‘He ignored her pleas for quite some time, but she kept asking. Eventually he said to himself, “This widow keeps annoying me, demanding her rights, and I’m tired of listening to her. Even though I’m not a religious man and don’t care about the opinions of others, I’ll just get her off my back by answering her claims for justice and I’ll rule in her favor. Then she’ll leave me alone.” The Lord continued, ‘Did you hear what the ungodly judge said—that he would answer her persistent request? Don’t you know that God, the true judge, will grant justice to all of his chosen ones who cry out to him night and day? He will pour out his Spirit upon them. He will not delay to answer you and give you what you ask for. God will give swift justice to those who don’t give up. So be ever praying, ever expecting, just like the widow was with the judge.’”
- Praying through silence is crucial – and God rewards our persistence. Matthew 15:22-28 (NIV) gives us an illustration: “And Behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.’ But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ And he answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.” We get results when we persist. Even if you feel like you are being met with silence, God is working – so keep persisting. It is worth it.
- Prayer can solve your problems even before you have them. It is common practice to wait until we have an issue to bring it to God, but we can prevent many unpleasant situations from coming up by seeking God’s guidance daily. Not waiting to hear from God and charging forward without His direction can be detrimental – we don’t know best, and we need God’s guidance in every circumstance in our lives.
- Prayer is an invitation. Matthew 6:5-15 (NKJV) instructs us: “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Prayer is an invitation to the Father, and it is a powerful thing – not something that we do to show off how spiritual we are. It’s not about how well we pray and how eloquent we sound; it’s true communication with the Father, an invitation for Him to permeate every aspect of our lives. It’s coming to Him in honor and reverence, inviting Him to awaken our expectation. It positions us for purpose, positions us for His victory in our daily lives.
Prayer is a powerful thing, and we cannot afford to push it to the side for “later.” God has so much for us, and prayer is a powerful tool and one we need to utilize always, because the heart of it is really just having conversations with God.