Recently, I posted my ramblings about what prayer is not. For example, prayer is not how you gain God’s approval for the wonderful plan you have for your own life. It is not a token to the divine wish machine. Nor is it merely an avenue for submitting requests for the super bouncy balls your heart desires.
These descriptions are helpful, even humorous. But the picture is not yet clear; I still want to know what prayer is.
Prayer is the vital breath of Christians; not the thing that makes us alive, but the evidence that we are alive.1
Without prayer, my spiritual lungs cannot breathe spiritual air. I suffocate the life of Christ from within. With prayer, my spiritual lungs take in all the life of Christ Himself. He is made manifest in me as I breathe in His life.
What happens when saints pray is that the power of the almighty is brought to bear on the one for whom they are praying.2
As I seek God’s help for freedom or wisdom or direction, the Creator of all whispers truth and peace and help to my soul. He reassures His presence in this communion of prayer, and His presence changes me as well as those for whom I am burdened to pray.
Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.3
Does prayer equip me and bless me? Yes. But the point isn’t to run into God’s presence and toss down my list of requests only to gather up the bounty and be on my way. The point of prayer is to enjoy God’s presence. Communing is the highest aim of the one who follows Jesus Christ.
I have much growing to do in communing with God. There are many wrong notions of prayer needing to be dismantled. As I meet with God, He does this greater work in me, freeing me from debilitating patterns that keep me from knowing Him more fully.
In all this, I rest in the simple promise found in the letter James wrote to the church: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
I don’t fully grasp this mystery of prayer—this privilege, this greatest of investments. But I want to know and walk with God in this life. I trust that as I come near to Him, He in turn comes close to me. His presence is the sweetest gift I could ever receive.
1. Oswald Chambers, Prayer: A Holy Occupation (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 1992), 142.
2. Oswald Chambers, Prayer: A Holy Occupation (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 1992), 132.
3. Oswald Chambers, Prayer: A Holy Occupation (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 1992), 130.