What is the right way to pray? Why do we pray? So much ink has been put down on prayer and yet the act of prayer still remains a puzzle to the church.
Many Christians venture into prayer without knowing how to pray!
This is not another piece on prayer theories; we already have more than enough of that! This piece is born out of revelation and practical experience.
The natural and traditional view of prayer is that prayer is a communication with God. And indeed it is! Prayer is a line of communication between man and the divine God.
Christians pray alone and in a community of believers – during quiet times, family devotions, prayer meetings in church, etc.
In praying, some tend to emphasize the tone and duration. While some believe that prayer at the top of one’s voice is what guarantees effective communication with God, others believe that a calm voice in prayer is what matters.
Similarly, the church is also divided between the lines of those who see longer duration of prayer as a tool to reach God and those who do not consider that necessary.
Either sides may argue that the results of prayer justifies their stand. This is sometimes the focus – what we want, our burdens and what we get from prayer.
Let us delve into this a bit. There are two basic kind of prayers, communicative prayer and declarative prayer.
Communicative prayer is relational based kind of prayer. This kind of prayer focuses attention on the person of God, not on what He will give and what we will gain communicating with Him.
Off course, we are to go to God with our needs but how often are we distracted by our needs that we do not stand in awe of who God is.
In prayer, we can recognize God’s power to change us and change our circumstances too. Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” When we approach God, not full of ourselves, but empty, we can be filled by him.
Perhaps, the right way to explain communicative prayer is that it is communion with God. This kind of prayer goes beyond ordinary communication, it is a fellowship kind of prayer.
The priority of communicative prayer is not simply telling God what we want but fellowship. This type of prayer gives room for the Holy Spirit to minister to us.
An adjustment of our mindset from just stating our needs to communing with God gives us relief from praying as a ritual or wondering what to say and what not to say and how to say what.
Prayer is meant to bring the human spirit into bond with the Spirit of God. When the focus is on self and not on God Himself, prayer then becomes limited to the physical and the flesh.
We can be at ease and find assurance in his presence when we focus on Him. Prayer should be an engaging time with God and that is beautiful because God wants to meet with us. Our needs should not be what lead us to God but we should seek God himself.
God is bigger than every challenge we have but our concern first and foremost can be focused on building a relationship with God.
To develop an attitude of fellowship in prayer, we need to be sensitive to God’s work in our lives. God is working all the time and we can converse with God about all He is doing.
Jesus communed with God regularly – being with God would have given Him spiritual or internal rest after his encounters with the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Our personal challenges and even daily headlines are enough to make us weary. The presence of God is a place of rest and refreshing. The Psalmist says:
For a day in thy courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:10).
Meeting with God through prayer at a personal level helps to find relief from the burdens and terrors of life.
It also broadens and sharpens our knowledge of God, His will for our lives and His work in us. In our closet with God, He can disclose new plans and horizons to be explored.
Christianity is not to be practiced in devoid of God. Jesus was in constant communion with God (John 8:26b, 28b). God wants to work through us and it is through personal fellowship with Him that we can know his will.
Purpose and dreams can be made certain in the presence of God. Our assignments and dreams are in the hands of God. It is in a personal fellowship with Him that we can receive conviction to pursue our assignments in life confidently. The scripture says this about Jesus.
Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world, He loved them to the end. Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God (John 13:1,3).
Here, Jesus’ action of preparing His disciples for His departure was based on the proper knowledge that His time was at hand to return to His Father. Close relationship with God can give us confidence in making decisions.
Communicating with God holds many more benefits than can be penned down here. Our lives change when we focus on knowing God rather than just meeting our needs – this is the heart of communicative prayer.
Declarative prayer on the other hand, is the kind of prayer that asserts the kingdom of God. This is a topic for another article but I’ll say briefly that, declarative prayer is simply the kind of prayer that is meant to wreak havoc on the activities of the kingdom of darkness by asserting and declaring the Word of God over a particular situation.