Prayer is an awesome aspect of divine fellowship. In fact, it is the heart and soul of our relationship with God. Although we communicate with our heavenly Father through Bible study, meditation, songs and worship, it is prayer that defines and undergirds each of these. Perhaps the greatest privilege of our Christian pilgrimage is prayer. How blessed we are to be invited by God Himself to sup with Him and He with us. The availability of God to our sometimes awkward and inconsistent faith staggers the imagination. Prayer is our access to the heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Without it, God becomes a distant deity with no invited input into our daily circumstances.
Prayer is the most personal and private part of our interchange with God. For this reason, no one can ever keep us from praying. It cannot be legislated either in or out of our lives. We can offer our private prayers anywhere and anytime we wish. It is a matter of desire and need to talk to God. Our personal conversation with God need not interfere with anyone else’s religious freedom. God deals with each of us as though we were the only one with whom He converses.
Jesus made quite a case for private prayer as He elevated the prayer closet over the street corner as a better place to pray. Of course Jesus did not eliminate public prayer as a part of our conversation with God. On several occasions He offered beautiful prayers that He apparently wanted others to hear. Jesus did know, however, that public prayer could get twisted and distorted because of improper motives. Praying done to impress others with either words or piety did not receive high marks from our Lord.
Prayer requests that are made primarily to spread malicious gossip do not serve a compassionate purpose. Matters that would embarrass and discredit are better left for the privacy of the prayer closet. Prayer chains are not designed to be hot lines to the latest rumors. They are sources of intercession for the latest needs which can be discreetly announced. Prayers that intimidate and subtly boast of our own goodness fit our Lord’s definition of hypocrisy. Care must be taken that the public aspect of our praying is not weakened by ulterior motives.
Prayer, when used for its intended purpose, is nothing short of a miracle. To think we can talk to God about anything, anywhere, and anytime is super…no, it is supernatural. This does not mean our petitions will always be granted as we desire, but we are heard, loved and given what God deems best. Prayer does not always change reality, but it changes us to adjust to reality. Therefore, pray lovingly without ceasing.