Prayer, what it is and what it is not

Matthew 6:8-13Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

I believe when the definition of a thing is wrong then the interpretation will be wrong. When the interpretation is wrong then the application will be wrong and when the application is wrong the result will be below standard and wrong. And when the result is wrong there is frustration. Therefore I think it is important to first define prayer in accordance within the parameters of the Bible

Simply said, according to the Jesus model of prayer in Matthew 6, prayer is having a conversation with God as a child communicates with his father. It is the process of conversation and co-operation with our heavenly Father resulting in a deeper relationship with Him thereby activating divine action, arrangement or re-arrangement in our lives of situations and things both in the physical and spiritual sphere.

Prayer is the highest form of conversation. It is a dialogue between the father and his offspring regardless of which party initiates the dialogue. It should not be likened to an official meeting between a boss and employee; it is a family conversation. While prayer includes asking and receiving, it is not about only asking and receiving. It is an intimate, heart to heart family conversation.

The concept of prayer has been wrongly defined as asking and receiving or as communication with God. It has been projected as the method of squeezing things out of God. The getting of things has been more emphasised over the deepening of a relationship with the Father. That is why we have an army of give me, give me, give me Christians and prayer warriors. Such people are quick to be offended if they don’t have their way with God or man. Prayer is not a monologue; it is a dialogue. Prayer has been made to appear as a conversation between a commander and an officer but this is not the case in the New Testament concept of prayer. Jesus implied that it is a conversation firstly between a father and his child and not between God and man, not a king and his subjects. According to Jesus, God is first our Father before he is our god. In the Old Testament, after the fall, men relate to the father as God and creator because the devil was the father of the human race at the time. But after Jesus died and rose from the dead for our sins, God is now first our Father and Jesus Christ is the first born.

When we pray from the standpoint that prayer is a conversation between God and man and not a conversation between father and his offspring then our prayers lack the level of intimacy, cordiality, warmth and privilege that we should be enjoying. An intimate conversation took place between a father and his 3 year old son. The man was newly elected as a minister in government of his country and it was his first day at work. As he was leaving for work his son wished him well, saying, “have a great day minister.” The man turned back and told his son, “while I am a minister, I am first your father, and I would prefer if you address me as your father and not as minister. To the public I am ‘minster’ but to you I am your dad and you are my son”.

Friend, the same applies to prayer. God is first our Father before He is anything else. So in the context of prayer you should renew your mind to the truth that you are having a family conversation with your father. He is the God of the whole of creation but He is first your Father. So I repeat prayer in the context of Matthew 6 is an intimate family conversation between the offspring and his father.

So from now, begin to undertake prayer as an intimate conversation with your father and not a special duty that only a few experts can undertake. You did not need to go to college to learn how to have conversation with your earthly father. You just go into his presence with freedom of expression. The same applies to your spiritual father; enter into conversation with Him through the blood of Jesus and have an intimidate chat with Him.

Sometimes, when I listen to or read the content of some people’s prayers, you would think they are having a conversation with the devil, demons or an enemy and God is just there as a bystander with no role to play. Please revise the foundation and constitution of your prayers in accordance with the model that Jesus set for us in the New Testament and you will begin to really have heaven on earth in your life. Always remember prayer is first a conversation with your father and then through the outcome and instructions of the conversation you take action over situations and outside forces.

Finally it is important to know that prayer is not:

just talking God i.e. monologue

having a long talk with the devil about his activities in your life

a period of complaining and crying to God hysterically

a process of listing out a demand to God to get him do things for you

specialised activity dedicated to a few expert Christians

the time to spend telling God how unworthy and worthless you are to manipulate Him into pitying you.

restricted to a location or building.


Further reading

Luke 11:1-4, Psalm 16:11, Luke 18:1

Personal declaration for the day

Father I know that praying to you is not a legal obligation to fulfil to get you to do things for me but it is the highest form of conversation between my heavenly father and me. Heavenly Father, from now on, anytime I come to you in prayer I come not for things but firstly for fellowship with you in order to strengthen my relationship with you.

Questions for you to reflect on

What is your perspective on your relationship with God? Are you first His child or His creature?

What is the content of your prayer?

How do you approach prayer?