In this week's Word of the Week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes us through a study of the word "prayer."
The word “prayer” describes the act of coming before God and speaking to Him as a child would speak to his/her father. God says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15). Prayer is, by its nature, the communication of one who is less to one who is greater. We are sinful, and God is all powerful. Yet, God has invited us to come before Him in prayer, with our needs and concerns, with our praise and adoration, with our thanksgiving for His many blessings, and also with humble confession of our sins and admitting that we deserve nothing from His powerful hand.
Prayer is a wonderful blessing and privilege from God. It also comes with God’s promise that He will hear and answer our prayer. Imagine! As Christians, we have the ear of the Creator of all the Universe! Believers in Christ throughout the history of the world have made use of God’s gift of prayer, and have had their prayers heard and answered. Job prayed for his friends, Moses prayed to the LORD on behalf of the people of Israel and Miriam his sister. Samson prayed for strength, and Hannah prayed for a son. King David prayed for forgiveness, and King Hezekiah prayed for healing. Elisha prayed that his servant could see the angels of the LORD protecting Jerusalem, and Daniel and Nehemiah prayed for the LORD’s blessing on requests made to their superiors. Paul prayed for his fellow believers, Stephen prayed for those who were murdering him. The LORD heard and answered each one of those prayers. James assures us: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).
Believers since the time of the apostles have continued to know the great blessing the LORD has given to us in prayer. The famous hymn-writer, John Newton penned these verses concerning the power and privilege of prayer: “Come, my soul, thy suit prepare: Jesus loves to answer prayer; He Himself has bid thee pray, Therefore will not say thee nay. Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring; For His grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much” (459:1-2).
Prayer is a gift from God to us. It comes with His promise to hear us and to grant what is best for us. With such great promises, it is a shame that we do not make more use of prayer, isn’t it? Paul encourages us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In addition, most of our prayers are all too often focused on our physical needs instead of our spiritual needs. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives us the opposite example. Yes, we can and should pray for our “daily bread” and the things of this life, but more importantly, our prayers should be directed to His name, kingdom and will, the forgiveness of our sins, and deliverance from temptation and the evil that surrounds us in this world of sin.
Thank you, Father, for the blessing You have given us in prayer. We do not deserve this gift of Your love but ask You to help us learn from the example of other believers in the Your Word as well as our Savior, and teach us to make use of this precious gift continually in our lives. Strengthen our faith in You, and use us to bring Your light of salvation to others that they to may know You and Your salvation in Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.