What is prayer?

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” – Jeremiah 29:12

Prayer. It’s something we do frequently. I don’t just mean Christians, either. Nearly every religion includes some form of prayer and even those who do not believe in God will find themselves praying, particularly when things get really bad. So, what is prayer?

My daughter turned 10 recently. I know that as kids get into their preteen and teenage years, they tend to start to keep things to themselves, whether out of fear, shame, a sense of independence, or something else. So, one of the things I keep emphasizing to my daughter as she approaches that age is that she can tell me anything and that I want her to keep sharing with me.

I want her to talk to me so I can help her, share her burdens, celebrate her victories, comfort her sorrows, and protect her. God wants us to talk to Him, too.

The Bible says a lot about prayer, however, it doesn’t really ever give a specific definition of prayer. Rather, God seems more intent on urging us to pray, then defining it. So, we look at how the Bible talks about prayer and a lot of examples of prayer and exhortations for us to pray. What we see, is a wide variety of words used to describe prayer as well as many ways to pray and many things to pray about.

Interestingly, the Bible doesn’t just use “churchy” words to describe prayer, but often uses common, earthy words, like speak, talk, and converse. So, a common definition of prayer is the broad statement:

To speak with God in words or thoughts.

Sometimes prayers are more like the begging of a desperate person and other times like the conversation of a long-time friend. Sometimes we use lofty language and other times everyday words. Sometimes, we don’t use words at all.

However we pray, what a prayer is for a Christian is different than the prayers of others. We are told by God, Himself, to come to Him in boldness, knowing that He will hear us and answer us. He calls us His children and tells us to come to Him. He wants us to talk to Him because He cares.

We know that we can come to Him, not because of some super-secret code language we know or because we have done such great deeds that we have earned the right, but because of Jesus. Through Jesus work on the cross and His resurrection, He has called us His own and made us the Children of God. He has removed our sins and made us blameless that we might come before a holy and righteous God confident that He loves us, receives us, hears us, and answers us.

Prayer is a gift from God and something we do in response to His love and grace. So, let us go to Him as He asks. Present our concerns, victories, sorrows, sins, needs, and joys to Him.

Heavenly Father, 

You have made me Your child. You have provided the way to come to You in prayer and tell me to do so. Thank you. Help me pray regularly in all circumstances.


In Christ’s Service,

Pastor Kurt