Three Words That Describe What Prayer Means to Me

“Three Words That Describe What Prayer Means to Me!”
Senior Pastor Gregg Hensel

A few years ago, I was looking through a newspaper one day, and I saw some pictures and plaques for sale. On one plaque there was a statement on prayer that caught my attention. It said, “God always answers prayer. Sometimes He says, ‘Yes’; sometimes He says, ‘No’; and sometimes He says, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’”

We all have a lot of questions about prayer. We may want to talk about the theology of prayer. We may want to talk about the reasons why we should pray. Many times we talk about the mechanics of prayer. We talk about the methods of prayer; or the steps of prayer; or the keys to successful prayer. We talk about what we should do when we pray, what the position of our bodies should be, or the things that we should pray about when, in fact, we do actually pray. But all too often we spend more time talking about prayer than we do actually praying. In this blog post, I do not want to contribute to that trend. I have just a few words to share to encourage you – and all of us – to be people who actually and actively pray to our Great God. I can summarize what prayer means to me in three words.

1. Relationship

I have a living, vital, and eternal relationship with the God of the universe. Prayer is not a series of rituals that I perform; it is not simply one part of my daily routine; it is not something that I check off on my daily list of duties; it is not something I do just because it is expected of me as one who is a “professional” Christian. Prayer is a vital part of my relationship with my LORD, my Savior, my Redeemer, my heavenly Comforter.

Through prayer I can communicate with God the Father and lay everything at His feet. In prayerful study of His Word, He speaks to me through that Word and shows me the way I should live. The test of the quality of any relationship is how much time the two people involved spend together talking and sharing with one another. For example, a good marriage requires time. It is the same with our relationship with God.

The second word that describes the importance of prayer to me is:

2. Privilege

If any of us were to receive an invitation to spend time with an important figure, maybe the President of the United States, we would consider that one of the biggest blessings of our lives. How much more, then, the fact that we can spend time with the King of the Universe! From Him we have received an open and limitless invitation. And this King, our Heavenly Father, is never too busy to hear our requests, never too distracted to receive our pleas, and never too indifferent to listen to our desires and problems. If we were to drive around major cities, we would see signs that advertise places that are open 24 hours every day. Even if we find such a place, however, it is not always easy to find the service and help that we need when we visit at say, 2am. However, our God is available 24 hours a day to receive us and to commune with us. He is always available to spend time with us in prayer. We do not have to go looking for Him. He is always there.

Relationship. Privilege. The third word that describes the importance of prayer to me is:

3. Responsibility

As we look at the worries of the world and the problems that people face, we know that we need to do something to help with these problems. In doing so, we recognize our responsibility to take these concerns to the Lord of the universe and ask Him to intervene in the affairs of men, both for His glory and for the good of His people.

Where there is a need, where there is suffering, where there is injustice, where there is someone lost, we can go to the Father and ask for His hand to be active in these situations. In fact, we must go to Him in prayer. Prayer is one of the things that God has ordained to help accomplish His Will on earth. If we do not pray, we are taking away one of the tools that God has given us for building His Kingdom here on the earth among the kingdoms of men. What kind of carpenter would not use all of his tools in building furniture or a house? Not a very good one. In the same way, we, as Christians, need to use all of the tools that God has given us in the accomplishment of His Will. Prayer is one of those major tools. If we do not use it, then we are not very good Christians.

These are three simple words, yet they describe so wonderfully the importance of prayer and what it means to me. Relationship. Privilege. Responsibility.

Will you take these three words to heart as you pray today, tomorrow, and throughout the rest of your life? Pray in order to nurture your relationship with the Lord. Pray, because you have the privilege to spend time with the One who organizes all things in your life and who uses all things to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ. Pray, because God has ordained that the prayers of His people are to be part of how His will is accomplished on the earth.

In 1980, after the Lord saved me, I began to pray for my family that they too would come to a saving knowledge of God through Jesus Christ. For years I prayed, preached, and waited patiently for God to work. Finally in 2005, 25 years after I began praying, my youngest brother and his wife came to faith in Jesus Christ. I had the privilege of baptizing them in the summer of 2007. I prayed and waited for several more years before I saw my father confess faith in Jesus Christ months before he died. I’m still praying for the salvation of the other members of my family. I won’t give up on them because I want them to experience the same joy that I have today in Christ Jesus.

Relationship. Privilege. Responsibility. These three words are ones that make prayer meaningful to me. I hope they will make prayer meaningful for you as well. Perhaps there are things that you are still asking of God. Talk to Him regularly about these things. Go to Him often and learn about His heart on these matters. Get to know Him better and expect Him to act in your life for His glory and for your good.

The great E. Stanley Jones was a missionary to India in the first half of the 20th century. This is what he said about prayer: “Prayer is surrender – surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out an anchor from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.” (E. Stanley Jones, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, K Hughes, Tyndale, 1988, p. 73.)

Sidlow Baxter was a Bible teacher in Australia during the 20th century. He said this about prayer: “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons – but they are helpless against our prayers.” May we cause even the gates of hell to tremble because we are those who pray and see God in action!

Prayer is a Relationship. It is Privilege. It is a Responsibility. How blessed we are to have such a relationship with the Living God. Therefore, brothers and sisters, let’s pray.

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