What is prayer? What does it mean to pray? In its most basic form prayer is a conversation with God. It involves both talking and listening. Talking to God and listening for what He has to say. Most often God speaks to us through His Word the Bible. The Bible is really His love letter to us. As we read it we begin to hear His voice. Not necessarily an audible voice but a sense of what He is saying, what He is trying to get us to understand. We can also hear Him as we pray and listen.
"In Prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God's thoughts after Him: to desire the things He desires, to love the things He loves, progressively we are taught to see things from His point of view."1
Why pray? Prayer changes things. It changes us, circumstances, people, etc... When I am faced with a difficulty I pray. Why? Because I believe that God acts when we pray. The God of the universe steps into my world and acts. He changes things. I remember a few years back when my wife was pregnant. She was in labor but things were not going well. Every time she would push the baby's heart rate would drop on the monitor and only slowly climb back. Finally they cleared everyone from the room and brought in the specialists. I knew things were serious now. They put Emily on oxygen and wanted her to take a break to let our unborn baby recover. I was worried. I began to pray and called our church to ask them to start the prayer chain (a group of people who call each other to pray for requests that come in). After awhile the doctors decided to try a relatively new procedure and that, combined with unwrapping the baby's umbilical cord from around its neck, did the trick. Was God involved? Yes. Were the doctors involved doing their thing? Sure, but not exclusively. God was also at work. When we pray God acts; not always or at least not always in the ways we would like Him to act, but He is involved. Sometimes His answer is yes, sometimes it is no, or even wait. It is not always yes. But the key thing to remember is that God is involved.
Matthew 21:22 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.2
As we think about our country and all the problems we face, the answer to them is found in God. God has called us to pray. He has said that if we will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways; He will hear us, forgive us and heal our land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.3
In the Bible Daniel is a good example of someone dedicated to prayer. Look up Daniel, Chapter 6 and read his story.
1Richard Foster, Celebration Of Discipline (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), 30.
2 Matthew 21:22, NIV.
3 2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV.