How To Get Beyond What We Assume Prayer Is?
What is Prayer? The Common vs. Uncommon Answer – Part 3
To get a true answer to the question, what is prayer? Where should one go? Church? Momma? Grandma? What about the Bible? How about Jesus? Unfortunately the last place we look to get the ground rules of prayer is the Bible and Jesus. We rest on what little we know of the subject. And now that we have the common answers out of the way, let me share the uncommon answers.
Broaching this topic can be tough since it’s uncommon and there’s very little out there that does an uncommon job of explaining it. After the previous message, we must stay away from any common explanation because that leads us to common results, very few answered prayers.
The Problem: Prayer Means Prayer
Before I get into providing the uncommon answers to what prayer is, I decided to simply define the words which led me to a problem. When you research the word “prayer”, “praying” or “pray”, it’s like going in circles. In the Greek and Hebrew, the words mean exactly the same “pray” and “prayer”. So I decided to sit on it for a day and the next morning, I decided to ask the One who could give me the answer. I “prayed” to God. I hope you see the humor in that and the play on the words. Nonetheless, He led me to look at the research I had done a little differently. He reminded me that the definition says “to pray”. These words mean “to pray” with God as the recipient. In other words, take it “your prayer” to God. In this light it means to take your request, need, plea, intervention, wish, desire, to God in a conversation that’s between you and Him.
Prayer is confused with talking to God.
It’s “normal, especially today to confuse prayer with talking to God. These two actions are not the same. There are occasions that Moses talked with God in conversation and there are times that he prayed. So I bet you’re wondering what’s the difference?
“You can talk to God without praying, but you can’t pray without talking to God.”
My studies and consult with God led me here. There are at least three types of interactions with God that I’ve been able to come across. And two of them are not called “prayer.” Here they are:
- Prayer: pray, prayed, praying, to pray. These words mean to bring to, offer to, or place before God.
- Direct messaging. God speaks directly. There are occasions where God speaks and give instructions directly without a person’s need to respond.
- Conversation. God and a person has a dialogue and communicate.
Let me provide an example of each to define the uncommon answers to what prayer is.
Prayer is Prayer
The phrase “prayer is prayer” shouldn’t make much sense. I’ve found this to be the case in many of our normal practices. It’s like these two words that have the same meaning, thaw and unthaw. There are times when normal words betray us and we must consult the origins of the words themselves. The words “pray” and “praying” originated from the same Greek and Hebrew words which means “to pray”. Funny right? Not to go back into that history lesson on the word, let’s just skip to it’s real meaning. Prayer means to present a need, a request, or a plea. It also means to intervene or to interpose. Think of it this way which will make it easier to picture; have you ever presented a request, plea or need to a parent (mom or dad)? Did you just drop it off in their lap for them to handle or did you wait for a response? In answering this question presents a visual to what prayer really is. Normal people drop their request and run away. The uncommon present the request and wait to hear from their “loving” Father.
Direct Message from God
You’ve probably heard the stories of God speaking with people in the most unusual ways, like Moses with the burning bush or when Jesus was baptized and God spoke to the onlookers. Outside of these extreme methods of communicating, God spoke in direct messages to a person more times than not. You can simply read your Bible to see this from beginning to the end of it. He spoke and gave those He spoke to direct messages and He still does this today. The point in me bringing this up is that the Bible never refers to this as “prayer”. I often wondered why did I wait until now to study this. Prayer is not when He direct messages you, prayer only occurs when you make a request of Him when you engage in communication with Him.
A Conversation with Jesus
My wife, Pamela, and I love the David Gregory “Perfect Stranger” books. In these books, it describes a person who sits downs and has a conversation with Jesus whether over dinner, seated together on a flight, or stranded on the roadside. What makes these books interesting and to make my point, the person had a conversation with Jesus, but didn’t know it was Jesus. What if you had a conversation with Jesus as if He were a real person? That’s what talking to God is like. In a conversation with Jesus, it’s the perfect time to offer up your problems, concerns, and challenges (prayer). It’s inside a conversation that’s the best opportunity for you and me to pray.
Prayer is waiting for what you should do next.
“The main object of prayer isn’t to get God to do something, it’s to talk to Him so that you can do something.”
To sum this all up, I often think about how people might have a misunderstanding of what prayer is. Most of the time, people assume or look at prayer as “I’m gonna ask God to do something” and that’s going to be the end of it. They drop their requests off as if prayer is simply a drop-off point. That’s what most people (51% or better) think the definition of prayer is. They forget a key element as it relates to prayer. That key element is this, when you pray, the real objective isn’t for God to do something, it’s for Him to talk to you so that you can do something. The key word is talk to Him about the request offered. You might not realize this, but it’s rare for Him to come down from Heaven to do something on Earth. That’s what He has you here for. He’s not coming down to do something for you that you can really do yourself.
Prayer is you talking to God about the challenges you have and waiting to see how He wants you to handle it.
Until next week, think on these things. There’s so much more in store.
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