What does praying mean?
Jesus taught His disciples and followers that prayer takes patience. He taught them to invite, trying to find, and knock. The early church “committed themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
What does praying mean? Simply put, prayer is conversing with God. Not just speaking to the Lord but listening. The latter is straightforward (being quiet before God). The former is easy as well (pronouncing what’s to your heart). Merriam-Webster defines prayer as “an address (which includes a petition) to God in word or mind.
The shortest prayer is: “God” or “Lord.”
Beloved Scottish author George MacDonald wrote: “‘O God,’ I stated, and that was all. But what are the prayers of the whole universe more than expansions of that one cry? It isn’t always what God can deliver us, but God that we want.”
Jars of Clay sings about this in its hauntingly beautiful music, “Oh My God,” certainly one of my favorite tracks on the artistically amazing and widely acclaimed Good Monsters album.
The longest prayer in the Bible is Psalm 119 (all but 3 verses are addressed to the Lord Himself).
What’s more, Solomon, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites all provided prolonged prayers to God.
What does praying not mean?
Prayer isn’t always restricted to the elite few. Yes, the great prophet, priest, and judge Samuel told God’s people: “I will sincerely not sin…by ending my prayers with you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
And, the Apostle Paul told believers: “We constantly thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly” (Philippians 1:2).
Then again, the Bible makes it clear that prayer isn’t restrained. It’s for everyone.
It’s uncommon, but if you listen to God, He might also tell you things you won’t want to listen.
Prayer isn’t usually profitable. After the terrible fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah stated: “And although I cry and shout, he shuts out my prayers” (Lamentations 3:8).
Did God truly stop listening to Jeremiah? No, not at all. But it felt like that to Jeremiah.
Often, we want to persevere in prayer exactly while it seems like God isn’t paying attention to us.
Prayer is not restricted to believers. When God sent a terrible storm at sea, the pagan captain woke Jonah and commanded, “Pray to your God! Maybe he will have mercy on us” (Jonah 1:6).
After Jonah defined who he was, who the Lord God is (maker of heaven and earth and the seas), why the Lord had sent the terrible storm, and what they had to do before He could stop it, “they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. ‘O Lord,’ they pleaded, ‘don’t make us die’” (Jonah 1:14).
As quickly as they threw Jonah overboard, the storm stopped. “The sailors had been awestruck by the Lord’s most strength, and they offered him a sacrifice” (Jonah 1:16).
Prayer is not confined to church and other holy places. Don’t forget: “Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish” (Jonah 2:1).
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What does praying mean and what is prayer is?
In both the Old and New Testaments, prayer regularly begins with worship, praise, and thanksgiving to the Lord God. In each Testament, prayer is every so often associated with fasting from meals or food and water for a selected time.
Jesus taught His disciples and followers that prayer takes persistence. In particular, He taught them to invite, looking for, and knock (Matthew 7:7-8). The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
The Apostle Paul taught: “Don’t worry about something; as an alternative, pray about the whole lot. Tell God what you want, and thank him for all he has done. Then you’ll experience God’s peace, which exceeds something we can recognize. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you stay in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).
He added: “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart” (Colossians 4:2, NLT). He affirmed: “Always be comfortable. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all occasions, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT).
He asked: “Pray first that the Lord’s message will spread swiftly and be honored anyplace it is going” (2 Thessalonians 3:1, NLT).
He commanded: “I urge you, initially, to hope for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and provide thank you for them. Pray this way for kings and all who’re in authority so that we are able to stay non violent and quiet lives marked via godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 NLT).
The half brother of Jesus, James, taught: “Therefore confess your sins to every other and pray for each other so that you’ll be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is strong and effective” (James 5:16).
The Apostle John instructed a dear friend: “I pray that you can enjoy proper health and that every one may work well with you, when your soul is getting alongside properly” (3 John 1:2).
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Biblical Truths to Affirm
I accept as true with God hears the prayers of sinners who call out to Him (Psalm 51:17; Psalm 145:18; Luke 15:10; Luke 24:47). I confess my sins after I pray to God (Ezra 9:6; Ezra 10:1; Nehemiah 1:6; Nehemiah 9:1-3; Isaiah 59:12-13; Daniel 9:4-5; Daniel 9:20, Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4).
I pray to God alone (Exodus 23:13; Isaiah 17:7-8; Isaiah 44:9-20; Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 10:14; Jeremiah 14:22; Revelation 21:27). I pray in time of crisis (Exodus 2:23; Judges 4:3; 2 Kings 19:1; 2 Kings 19:4; Ezra 9:5-15; Nehemiah 9:1-38; Psalm 5:2; Psalm 30:10; Psalm 55:1; Psalm 71:2; Psalm 109:21-31; Psalm 141:1; Daniel 9:1-19; Matthew 26:42).
I participate in public prayer on special events (I Kings 8:30; Ezra 10:1; Acts 3:1). I believe God answers prayer (Genesis 20:17; Deuteronomy 9:20; Psalm 34:17; Psalm 55:17; Psalm 69:33; Psalm 116:1; Psalm 145:18; Proverbs 15:29).
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Biblical Commands to Obey
I pray privately (Matthew 6:5-6; Matthew 14:23; Luke 9:18).
I pray concisely and thoughtfully (Ecclesiastes 5:1-5; Matthew 6:7-9; Luke 11:2).
I do not make rash guarantees to God (Judges 11:30-35; 1 Samuel 14:24-45; Ecclesiastes 5:2-6).
I pray often (Daniel 6:10; Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:4; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:10).
I pray for others (Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:9; Numbers 21:7; 1 Samuel 12:19-23; 2 Kings 4:32-35; 2 Chronicles 30:18; Job 42:8; Acts 6:5-6; Acts 12:4; Acts 14:23; Acts 28:eight; Romans 1:nine; Ephesians 1:sixteen-19; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; Colossians 4:3-4; Colossians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philemon 4; Hebrews 13:18-19; James 5:14-16).
I pray about my personal desires (Matthew 6:11-13; Luke 11:3-4; Philippians four:6; James 5:15).
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Biblical Examples to Heed
Like Enoch, I can walk close fellowship with God through prayer and believe him wholeheartedly (Genesis 5:22-24).
Like Abraham, I am the recipient of amazing blessings when I pay attention to God and agree with Him wholeheartedly (Genesis 15:1-6). Like Miriam, I lead others in praise to God for His exceptional answer to prayer (Exodus 15:20-21).
Like Hannah, I am confident God brings pleasure out of sorrow after I pray (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Like Samuel, I pay attention to God and say “yes” no matter what my age (1 samuel 3:1-21).
Like Elijah, I know God will meet my needs even in the most determined of occasions (1 kings 19:1-18). Like Jabez, I know God wants to prosper me irrespective of how humble my birth (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).
Like Jehoshaphat, I face trials and hazard with songs of reward for God’s trustworthy love (2 Chronicles 20:1-28). Like Manasseh, I know it’s not too overdue to turn back to God, repent, and ask for his forgiveness irrespective of how terrible my past sins (2 Chronicles 33:10-13).
Like Ezra, I pray to God for safety and protection (Ezra 8:21-23). Like Nehemiah, I looking for God’s very best notwithstanding the barriers in my way (Nehemiah 1:1-11). Like David, I tell God what’s on my heart in any and every situation (half of the book of Psalms).
Like Asaph, I turn to God in prayer when something shakes my faith (Psalm 73:1-28). Like Hezekiah, I visit God in prayer after I am attacked, and the Lord is blasphemed (Isaiah 37:1-20). Like Daniel, I will remain true to God and pray in the midst of disaster situations (book of Daniel).
Unlike Zechariah, I do not need to doubt God’s answer to my prayers (Luke 1:5-23).
Like Simeon and Anna, I believe I will experience super answers to prayer in my lifetime (Luke 2:21-38). Like the Syrophoenician Woman, I persist in looking for the Lord, believing in his power and willingness to fulfill my finest need (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30).
Like Blind Bartimaeus, I’m confident God delights to listen and answer my prayers (Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43). Like the Poor Widow, I know God will bless my gifts a hundredfold (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4).
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Some Great Prayers of the Bible
David’s prayer of way to the Lord (1 chronicles 17:16-27). Solomon’s staggering prayer dedicating the temple to the Lord (1 kings 8:15-53; 2 Chronicles 6:12-42).
Daniel’s prayer of repentance to the Lord on behalf of God’s people (Daniel 9:3-20). Ezra’s prayer of repentance to the Lord on behalf of God’s people (Ezra nine:5-15).
Nehemiah’s prayer of repentance to the Lord on behalf of God’s people (Nehemiah 1:4-11). The Levites offer in a super prayer to the Lord (Nehemiah 9:5-37).