What is prayer?

“Pray without ceasing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:7 (KJV)

Lots of definitions have been given to the activity of prayer. Some people see it as only a time of making requests to God for favours. Others, wiser in my estimation, see it as much more.

Prayer, as recorded in Scripture, is a rich mosaic of things that come together in a harmonious blend of thanksgiving, worship, confession and request.

Prayer at its most basic level may be defined as communication with our Creator.

Most of the prayers in the Bible consist of several—and often all—of these four elements. So prayer can be an emergency communication with God in a desperate time of need. This form of prayer is made up of requests specifically. It is certainly an appropriate form of prayer and many of my readers have been active in this very type of approach to God.

Sometimes we pray because a sudden load of care has descended upon us. Then it may be a simple three word cry such as, “God help me.” There is no need to seek eloquence in prayer any more than when speaking to a good friend.

Other times we are more calm and reflective and think of God’s goodness to us. This propels us into a time of thanksgiving for the good things God has given to us. We might even use a hymn book and sing a song of thanksgiving to God.

Thanksgiving to God usually leads to worship. We recognize the sovereignty of God in all things and seek to describe Him in words. We may thank Him for His attentive eye on us, for His consistency in dealing with us, for His artistry in creation, and for a multitude of other things that declare the wonder and majesty of our God.

The last focus of prayer is confession of our sins and calling on God to forgive us for Jesus’ sake. Some people seek to do this first in a time of prayer—in order to be right with God.

The order of these elements in prayer is not prescribed in the Bible nor need we include all of them every time we pray.

Sometimes we may wish to think about the prayer before offering it. We may wish to find teaching in Scripture on the topic we desire to address in prayer. It is good to use the Bible as a flashlight to shine on the matter and give us some light on the subject.

The point is that there need be no subject we should hesitate to bring before our Creator, there is no request too small for God’s attention.

The One to whom we pray notices the bird falling from the branch of a tree. He observes all things. Are you not worth much more than a mere bird?

Of course you are very precious to the God who made you. Come to Him in prayer for any and all of your needs. He loves to be gracious and give good things to those who ask. Bring that special need to Him today and come now.

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