What is Prayer?July 1, 2023 2023-07-01 8:01
What is Prayer?
What is Prayer?
The nature of spirituality is connectedness with that which is beyond. It is to connect with the spiritual realm. Because we have all been made in the image of God, by design, we are spiritual beings. Our spirituality has been wrapped up in flesh causing our first attention to go to that which is natural so connecting to God on a spiritual level is not always that easy.
First You Must Believe
To connect with that which is spiritual means you must first believe there is a spiritual realm. It is easy to say we believe in God, angels, and demons, but do we really believe there is a spiritual realm. Our social imaginary in the west would suggest that it is all hogwash, make-believe fairy tales. Even many who refer to themselves as Christians can go through the religious activity of worshiping God, yet not truly believe in the depth of their heart that God exists.
Belief is not something that comes easy when we are talking about faith. Faith is the evidence of what we cannot see. Faith is having conviction that something is true though it cannot be proven empirically. Does God exist? Is He really out there?
If you find yourself unsure or with doubt about the existence of God, take a look around at the beauty but more importantly the design of nature. The Scripture teaches us that creation all around us was created by God to reveal the character and power of God:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Many scientists have also began to consider a Creator God because of the nature of the universe. Lee Strobel, former atheist turned Christian and author of The Case for Christ said this:
“And even though alternative models of the universe have been proposed, the Borde-Guth-Vikenkin Theorem tells us that any universe that is expanding, on average, thru its history, like ours, must have space-time boundary in the past. In other words, it must have had a beginning at some point.”
Ultimately, each one of us must decide for ourselves whether we believe or not, but God has given us so much to look at. The efficiency of nature allowing it to adjust and restore itself would reveal that it did not happen without thought, without design. If you are struggling to believe, this is a good place to start.
God is in You
The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit of God has come into us. Logos is a Greek word meaning ‘word.’ Jesus is called the logos or the Word of God in John 1. Christ is in us. He is God in us by the Holy Spirit who is also God and logos. The Bible teaches us that the Word is in us, in our heart and in our mouth. Scripture also teaches us that God who is good has written upon the hearts of every man and woman a sense of right and wrong regardless of formal laws. This goodness in humanity must come from somewhere. Why were we designed with a sense of right and wrong in a certain direction that just happens to match up with the morality taught in Scripture. Ontologically, humanity knows murder is wrong, the killing of innocence is wrong. To betray someone is wrong. To lie, to cheat, to hate. Humanity doesn’t always know what to do with this conscience within, but it is yet another facet of evidence of a spiritual being.
Believe in Jesus
Once we have accepted that we are spiritual beings, the next question is what exactly do we believe about the spiritual realm. Do we accept what the Hindus teach, Islam, Christianity? This is where the Bible really come into play. The Bible is actually a collection of 66 different books or letters written by approximately 40 different people from all walks of life over a 1500 year span. They were writing about different times and events, but there is a clear connection through it all and that is the coming, appearing, dying, resurrecting, ascending of God’ Son, Jesus Christ. Conservatively, there are more than 300 statement written down hundreds or thousands of years before the birth of Christ that were fulfilled by Christ within the 33 years He was alive on the Earth. Coincidence? I think it takes more faith to believe that Jesus fulfilling more than 300 prophetic statements than to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
The Punishment Removed
This is so important because if Jesus is the Son of God, then the purpose of His death on the cross was to satisfy the punishment required of sin, our sin. He took our place and our punishment. When we think of the punishment of God, we tend to think of things such as sickness, disease, or even stubbing our toes. To fully understand the punishment of God, we must understand the nature of everything good. God is good and all goodness exists and flows from Him. Everything that we would consider good flows out of God, that is out of His being or presence. Punishment then is the degree in which there is distance between us and God. God will never leave us, but He doesn’t force us to remain with Him. Like the father of the prodigal son, He allows us to run away from Him. Of course, He pursues us in many ways, calling us back to Himself, but we are not forced. The distance we create in our rebellion separates us from the goodness of God and places us more and more into the curse of distance from Him. The further I move from Him, the greater punishment I receive.
We stay near to God through worship. Worship is the veneration and reverence we carry for something. To have reverence for God is to respect Him and to honor Him. If God tells us the best path to an abundant life is to go left, but we instead choose to go right, we have not honored Him. The less we honor the Lord in disobedience or lack of faith that He knows the path to the good life, the more distance between us and the more punishment we endure. God attempts to use the punishment, like a good Father, to helps us come to our senses and bring us home akin to the pig stall of the prodigal.
Jesus, by taking all of the punishment for our sins allows us to move back into the presence of God though we continue to have sin. His death and resurrection give us power over death (the separation from God) into life (our union with God) because all life flows from Him.
To believe in Jesus as the one who has saved us from our sins and to make Him our Lord by honoring His requests in obedience is to accept that we can draw near to God, that we can connect with Him in a transcendent way. Jesus came to reconcile man back to God by creating a pathway to the presence of God through faith that His death was for our reconciliation.
Now that we choose to believe there is a transcendent God that we can draw near to through Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection, it is not only possible for us to connect on a spiritual level with God, but it is incumbent upon us to do so since this is the very reason Jesus came and died for our sins. The question is how do we do this? Ultimately, this is what prayer is. Prayer is the vehicle by which we connect in our spirit to the Spirit of God that has come into us through a mystical union made possible by the life and death of Jesus Christ.
What is Prayer?
If you look for a synonym for the word ‘prayer,’ you are going to get words such as supplication, request, or even beg. This is a very shortsighted definition of prayer. Prayer is not asking God to add all of your spiritual grocery list items into some mystical grocery basket. Prayer is connection to God through the our spirit intermingling with the Holy Spirit also within us. Remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is meditation and contemplation of God in our heart made possible through His own revelations to us through His Spirit in us.
The Lord reveals Himself in nature as we have already established, but I have to allow myself to interact with nature in a spiritual way. Seeing all of Creation as that which was made to remind me, you and me personally, that God loves us and is able to care for us allows us to interact with nature in a way that connects with God.
The Lord reveals Himself through Scriptures and the person of Jesus Christ. We can read the Bible and the life of Christ from a historical perspective or we can frame the Scriptures within our own mind within the existence of the Jehovah God of the Bible who sent His Son out of love for His creation, that is us that we might be brought back to Him.
We must allow our thoughts about creation, God, the Bible, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to go into our hearts where the Holy Spirit is being within us. I can historically acknowledge that a man named Jesus was crucified for the crime of blasphemy under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor at the time. Or, I can read about the love of God who sent His Son to die at the hands of Pilate that He might conquer sin, remove condemnation, and give the power of life over death to all who believe. The difference is how I allow myself to consider what I read. But there is more to it.
It is Spiritual
I must allow these truths into my spirit. I must meditate on them so that they are soaked up in my soul where I experience them on a level deeper than my intellect. It is the place within me where I sense the supernatural things that go beyond what can be explained. If this seems foreign to you as you read, consider the feeling experienced when we hear the laughter of a baby or when we are reunited with a loved one after a long separation. We can’t help but be moved when we watch the videos of father returning home and surprising their children at school. We are moved emotionally, but even deeper because what we are feeling is connecting to a place within us that holds our joys and pain, fears and hope. It is connecting to us at a heart level which is where the Holy Spirit of God is. Pray is allowing ourselves to be taken to the heart level with God and just being there in His presence.
A Conversation of the Heart
Prayer is the time we spend in His presence where a
conversation flows, even if without words.
Prayer is keeping company in the Presence of God in our own heart. He has enthroned Himself on the praise that
come forth out of our mouth, the overflow of our heart. And He speaks to us there, sometimes in
comprehensible words and we speak back.
At other times, His essence speaks Himself to us with overwhelming moments
of feeling His love for us, His hope for us, His forgiveness of us. This is prayer. Prayer is becoming a lost practice in the
church. We have turned God into
something that we talk about but never truly experience. But Christianity is, if nothing else, a
spiritual endeavor where the eternal in me can push through the finite in me to
an eternal God who is love and be in His Presence soaking up His glory and here
is where transformation takes place, but that would be for another post.
I pray that you allow yourself the freedom to believe and
receive God into your heart and there be with Him in your spirit that you may
know Him in a level deeply spiritual beyond your intellect.