Do you still have questions about the mystery of prayer. Don’t let not having all the answers stop you from praying!
How do you reply when someone asks you, “What is prayer anyway?”
My first response is usually: “Prayer is an expression of dependence on God.”
To depend on someone means that you need them.
You’re counting on them for something.
Without them, what you need would be missing, unfulfilled.
As created beings, we are dependent on God. Whether we want to be or not. Whether we think about it or not.
In [God] we live and move and exist.
For by [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.
You and I are dependent on God whether we express or deny that dependence.
We probably don’t fully comprehend that dependence.
Do you acknowledge your dependence on God? Do you express it through prayer?
There are many reasons we avoid prayer:
- we presume we don’t need God
- we assume God doesn’t care
- perhaps we don’t care
- we’re afraid of the answer
- we might not get an answer
- we don’t know how
While any one of those reasons may prevent us from crying out to God in prayer, it’s also possible that we don’t pray like we could because we just plain don’t understand prayer. And we really don’t like things we don’t understand.
Ever since Adam and Eve first began communicating with God in the Garden of Eden, hundreds of questions have been asked about the mystery of prayer. And thousands of answers have been offered. But, like God Himself, prayer is one of those things we will never fully comprehend.
In his book, A Praying Life, Paul Miller states:
If you are going to enter this divine dance we call prayer, you have to surrender your desire to be in control, to figure out how prayer works.
We must give up trying to master the mystery of prayer. Of trying to determine a formula that will allow us to get it right every time. The effectiveness of our prayers does not depend on getting it right. God is aware that we won’t know just how to pray! And He’s prepared for that.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
But we must not give up praying. Of communicating with the Creator and Sustainer or our life. Of expressing our dependence, our need for God.
Our need to trust God.
Our need to rely on God.
Our need to wait on God.
So stop trying to fully understand prayer before you pray.
But definitely pray. Pray because you need God. I need God. We don’t just need what God can give us or do for us.
We need God Himself.
Quotes on Prayer
Here are a few quotes on prayer that I’ve gathered. Each one captures a tiny essence of the mystery of prayer. My hope is that they encourage and inspire you to acknowledge your dependence on God and to express that dependence through prayer.
Learning to pray doesn’t offer you a less busy life. It offers you a less busy heart.
— Paul Miller
If prayer seems to you a diversion from productivity, remember that God does more in five seconds than we can in five hours.
— John Piper
Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.
— Elisabeth Elliot
Once we learn to pray with our hearts and not our lips we truly begin to have a conversation with God.
Prayer isn’t about the answer. It’s about the opportunity to see God at work.
— Elisa Pulliam
Prayer isn’t to remind God what your problems are, but prayer is to remind your problems who God is.
God will either give us what we asked or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything He knows.
— Timothy Keller
Prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do.
Worry and stress are indicators to pray! We give God our cares, and He gives us His peace.
But neither should we let our inability to master the mystery of prayer stop us from studying such a vital and life-changing practice. Look into these resources, old and new, for more prayer inspiration.
Praying the Promises of the Cross – a 40 Devotional & Scripture Prayer Journal (the link will take you to further description; click the Promises of the Cross link in the description to purchase)
Change the Way You Pray – online article by Paul Tripp
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller
How To Pray In The Spirit: 31 Devotional Readings by John Bunyan
A Praying Life: Connecting With God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller
A Call to Prayer by J.C. Ryle
Does Prayer Change Things? R.C. Sproul
Tell me – do you have a favorite quote or resource on the mystery of prayer?
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