As a continuation of the first article "Restoration Promised" regarding prayer, this post will build on the spiritual meaning of prayer in the Bible. Prayer has been used for centuries, originating with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to give recognition to God. However, it has also been used in pagan worship to idols such as Baal and most demons today that masquerade as different culture's gods (i.e. Baal and Molech mentioned in the Old Testament, the Egyptian idols). This post will focus on the definition of prayer and why it is important.
Spiritual Meaning of Prayer in the Bible
Put plainly, prayer is defined as communication to God. It is a dialogue that allows communication from humans to God, an expression of need and thanksgiving. God allows this communication to express His lovingkindness.
"But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children . . ." (Psalm 103:17, NIV).
"That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me" (John 17:21-23, NASB).
Prayer was intended to be a channel to walk with God and to please Him. To the Christian, we have no higher authority (unlike the Catholic Church that teaches that the pope is on the same level as God) other than Christ. He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and strengthen us (Hebrews 4:14-16). God was fully aware and felt our intellectual infirmities (Romans 8:28) in the union of His human nature (carnation in flesh by the virgin birth) and His divine nature. Christ was fully man and fully God, without sin since He was not born of man's seed. The two passages of Luke 8:45 and Matthew 17:27 are explaining the union of Christ's natures.
With knowing intellectual infirmities, Christ also knew our physical infirmities as well. He was able to be thirsty (John 4:6), hungry (Matthew 4:20), tired (John 4:6), and was able to experience pain (John 19:1).
When one is converted, God hears the prayers of the Christian due to them being born again through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. With that said, God will choose to not hear the prayer of the Christian if they are bound in sin for a season, such as with the Israelites. We'll eventually talk about the hindrances of prayer in future posts. Through regeneration, God no longer sees the convert as an enemy but as a friend.
"For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son" (Romans 5:10, NLT).
"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15, ESV).
The Importance of Prayer
The importance of prayer stems beyond our human understanding, as it is intended. Upon conversion, the mind is renewed and it recognizes sin. There are several reasons why prayer to the only living God is important.
God is glorified
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:3).
Praying is a commandment as love is a commandment
"Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41, ESV).
"Pray without ceasing . . " (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV).
"And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1, ESV).
God delights in hearing the prayers of the righteous (the Christians)
"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him" (Proverbs 15:8, ESV).
Prayer brings changes
"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, ESV).
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Prayer takes the focus off of the self and onto God. When one is converted to Christianity, prayer brings humility as it encompasses needs that can’t be met by our own actions or merit. It also brings peace knowing that things are not in our control or planning.
In future posts, we'll discuss who can pray, what should be included in prayer, and how to pray (all of which are biblically founded). There will also be a mention of the spiritual gifts since I have had some questions regarding if praying in tongues is biblically based. Subscribe to the blog to stay updated on more posts to come.
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