What is Prayer?
Britannica stated that “a prayer is an act of communication by humans with the sacred or holy-God”. Yes, that is all that prayer is; communication with God, like communicating or talking to your friends and family. It’s how we speak to God and present our requests. Personally, prayer for me is talking to God about all my feelings, emotions, struggles, and secrets. Not that anything CAN be hidden from God as he sees everything, but I still find blessings in telling him all the things that he had known already.
In the Bible, we see prophets and leaders talking to God through prayers. As I was studying this topic, God showed me King David’s prayer in Psalm 51. This prayer was after he sinned against the Lord; a prayer for forgiveness. In this verse, it is clear how King David spoke to God like he was talking to a friend, asking God to “forgive his transgressions” and “not cast him from God’s presence”. Each time I go through this verse, it reminds me of how I ask my parents, mostly my mum, for forgiveness every time I forget to do the chores, she told me to do. Just a normal conversation.
Of all, I think the best example of communication through prayer would be Jesus himself. Jesus even taught us how to pray in Matthew 6:5-15. Jesus also simply explained that there would be no need for fancy, exquisite words when you pray and that the simple everyday talk would do because God already knows what you would ask before you come to Him.
What Does Prayer Do?
1. Builds Relationship with God
Think of your best friend, or your mum, or just anyone that you’re close to. How did you become close, firstly? Continuous meets, endless chats, opening up your heart, and sharing everything, that is how we create a close bond with someone. Well, building a close relationship with God works the same way. The more we go to Him in prayer, the closer we get, the stronger our relationship is built. My relationship with God grew the more I started praying. What began as a formal request presentation such as, “God bless this person and that person, help me get good grades and help me overcome this”, my prayer developed to a personal conversation which goes like, “Lord, I am afraid of going to the dentist today and I failed my test, what do I do?”. Yes, the dentist part is irrelevant, but if it was a close friend, you would share this fear, wouldn’t you? Jesus is our friend. He listens to anything and anything is everything.
Here’s a quick fact reveal. I have no close friends to share my daily activities, fears, and joy. I did once and they showed me a million reasons why I shouldn’t have friends at all. That moment of my life was when I turned to God when I started sharing all these little details to God, which seem absurd, but I know He would listen to me.
Communication Is Key
2. Reveals God’s Plans and Thoughts
When we have a best friend, or someone we trust dearly, a part of us, be it a secret or a plan would be in their knowledge. Likewise, when we have a close bond with God, he will reveal His plans in our lives. The verse, John 15:15 says,
“I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you”.
Jesus himself reveals the Father’s plans to those he considers “friends”; who have a close, personal relationship with Him. It could be a plan, things that are going to happen, an answer for a question, and sometimes he also shows us if our paths are His will or not.
I often question if God was with me or if he left as I couldn’t feel His presence and can’t see His move, if I was alone, and if my path is pleasant in His sight. I always wondered if the choice I made was on my understanding of His will. Most of my questions through prayer were answered, all in different ways. In dreams, through signs, and sermons in church. Most of the time, God shows me through real-life experiences. There was a time in my late teens when I chose a path for myself, thinking that it was God who allowed it to happen because it was completely centered in Christ. It went well for months till one day, everything started turning against me and I panicked. I went to God and asked for His guidance.
Also, note to self: God helps you when you surrender humbly to Him
That’s when it struck me how I did not consult Him about it when I began. I asked God for forgiveness, for not waiting for His plan and rushing into things. I also asked for his help to get through this, and we all know how the Lord is gracious. Like a movie, my past life flashed before me, when I had peace when I had nothing to hide and when this decision wasn’t made. He did show me a way out and also, showed me that this was not His plan. I doubted even then till God brought me through bitter experience. The very decision I made became a problem in my life that I regretted even thinking of involving in it. He showed me that his plan was beyond my thoughts, greater than what I found for me. The way he chooses to reveal His plans may not be alike for everyone, but an answer is there if you have a close relationship with Him.
Remember, the bestie knows the secret!
3. Changes Our Character
Before, I was timid. I don’t talk to strangers (the reason why I have no friends?), my circle was small, I would think a million times before doing anything and I was scared of the world. I had the least amount of courage anyone could ever have and I was scared of doing anything without the help of my parents. When my prayer developed, courage emerged in me. The first prophetic verse given to me was, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Prayer made me realize that God is now with me as a shield, a tower of refuge, and a counselor in everything that I do. Indirectly, I started relying more on Him for everything than on people.
Prayer also changed the easily-angered side of me to a calmer, patient version. My temper used to go up and stay there for days, making me moody all the time and preventing me from having an argument-less communication almost to anyone. That was because I don’t usually vent to anyone about the things that are bothering me and when I started doing so in prayer, talking to God and crying out, the pent-up feelings reduced, making me calmer and gave me better control of my anger.
4. Grants Us Peace and Security
When we pray, it is not one-way communication. Many people think no interaction is involved in prayer as we speak to God who is unseen and often, we can’t see or even know His response. That is not true. Of course, God is not present in a human form to give us the human-like response we expect. But God does answer prayers in various forms that most people are not aware of.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
It doesn’t stop there. What follows gives us exactly the answer to how God listens to us, and how to recognize it. Verse 7 says, “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. That is our answer right there. When we pray, the first confirmation God will show us is through peace. When you’re at peace after presenting a request to the Lord, the worry you had on that matter would disappear if not diminish. That is how you know, instantly that God is hearing you pray.
Besides, when we pray, we let down our guards, making us nothing before God and place all our burdens at His feet. Whether we receive an answer or not, we are in peace for being able to share our pain and worries to God. Every time I walk out of my room, my heart is lighter. This just proved to me that the Lord is true to His promises when He said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.
Prayer also gives us security, that we have a faithful God who listens and who will come to our aid. Every time I pray, I am encouraged that I’m not alone in this, now that Jesus knows my problems. I am secure in His protection and He will not let anything harm me, as long as I trust and submit my situation to Him. Allow me to strengthen this point by breaking down a verse. Psalm 91:9-12 says,
“If you make the Highest your dwelling- even the Lord, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone”.
Those who dwell in the Highest are those with a close relationship with the Lord, which happens in many ways, and one of it being prayer. The promise God has for those with a close bond is the security and confirmation of being under His protection at all times.
Prayer is a Weapon
These are just simple sharing based on my experience of prayer and there are a lot more blessings waiting for those who have a strong prayer life.
© 2020 Priscilla John
Priscilla John (author) from Malaysia on August 19, 2020:
It is a long study and more secrets will be shared in the upcoming parts. Your patience is much appreciated.