HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
“ Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were..” –Psalm 39:12
“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” –Luke 11:1
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:” –John 17:1
“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” –Acts 1:14
“ Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” –Ephesians 6:18
“Pray without ceasing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:17
Throughout the Bible, believers are called to pray. But what is prayer? What does it mean to “pray without ceasing?” And does prayer really make a difference? Before delving too deeply into the topic of prayer, it will be beneficial to first define the term, as well as the focus of our prayers—God.
PRAYER AND GOD’S NATURE
Let’s start with the second part. In order to develop a clear idea of prayer, we must first have a clear idea of God. Biblically speaking, God is a personal being. This is critical to prayer because it means that God is a person we can interact with, that He has a will and that we are able to relate to Him on a meaningful level. If He were impersonal, then prayer would not be meaningful. If He were personal, but uncaring and distant, prayer wouldn’t serve a purpose.
Not only is God personal, but He is also loving (1 John 4:8 &16; John 3:16). This is also important in relation to prayer. If God were personal, but uncaring or unkind, then prayer might do us more harm than good! But God is not only loving, But He is also all loving (*omnibenevolent). In relation to prayer, this means that God always desires the best for us because He loves us.
God is also all-powerful (omnipotent), meaning that no prayer is beyond His ability to answer, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). If God were less than all-powerful, then we would have no assurance that He could answer or even hear our prayers.
The fact that God is all-knowing (omniscient) is also significant to the concept of prayer. If God were limited, then He would not know all that is happening in His creation. If this were the case, He might overlook our prayers because they might be beyond His knowledge. Fortunately, the Bible is clear that God knows everything (Psalm 139:2-4; 147: 4-5; Isaiah 46:10). In relation to God’s omniscience, Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).
God is also wise and holy. He knows what is best for us, as well as what will lead us to holiness rather than sin. He is also immanent, meaning that God is active in His creation in a personal way, not only directing greater matters of history but also involved in the life of everyone. This means that no prayer is too great for Him, but also that no prayer is too small for Him.
While we cannot explore all of God’s attributes here, one final one to note, of utmost importance to prayer is God’s sovereignty. God is supremely in charge of everything that happens in His universe. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing happens in our lives without the knowledge of God, even though we may not always understand His actions: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
In hearing and responding to our prayers, then, we are assured that God will do so on the basis of His many attributes. His personal nature, love, power, knowledge, wisdom, holiness, immanence and sovereignty all play a role in how we relate to God in prayer and how He relates to us.
*(All-loving, or infinitely good, usually in reference to a deity or supernatural being, for example, ‘God’. Its use is often with regards to the divine triad, whereby a deity is described to be simultaneously omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent.)
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW …..