9 Descriptions of Prayer by Various Authors


Prayer is so very basic, yet it is also so deep and boundless in it meaning. In my reading I have found nine different descriptions of prayer.

 1. Prayer is asking and receiving. According to E.M. Bounds, “Prayer is the outstretched arms of the child for the Father’s help.  Prayer is the child’s cry calling to the Father’s ear…Prayer is the seeking of God’s greatest good, which will not come if we do not pray.”

Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Again E. M. Bounds writes, “Prayer is asking, seeking and knocking at a door for something we have not, which we desire, and which God has promised to us…Prayer is the voice of need crying out to Him who is inexhaustible in resources.  Prayer is helplessness reposing with childlike confidence on the word of its Father in heaven.”

Thus prayer is asking because we are as a needy child, and it is receiving because He is our Father and so willing to supply our need.

2. Prayer is approaching God’s throne. According to Spurgeon, “True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God.”  I would say it this way: it is the approach of the Holy Spirit in our soul that drives us to the throne.

Again Spurgeon writes, “True prayer is a spiritual business from beginning to end, and its aim and object end not with man but reach to God Himself.”   Yes, we enter into the courts of heaven to do business, spiritual business with God.  Thus prayer should be regarded as a spiritual business meeting in the heavenly places with God.

But we go there not alone. The Holy Spirit goes there with us.  He has invited us there, where a prayer-business meeting has been going on for over 2000 years. Says Thompson, who wrote a little book entitled, Master Secrets of Prayer: “[Prayer] is a tuning in on the great, thunderous, two-thousand-year-old prayer meeting going on in the glory above.” There we join Jesus and the Holy Spirit along with all the saints gathered around the throne of God.

3. Prayer is our service due Him. According to E. M. Bounds, “Prayer is not a duty which must be performed, to ease obligation and to quiet conscience… [it is rather] a solemn service due to God, an adoration, a worship…”    Prayer is not only for our own sake, to make requests and to gain answers, it is also to please God, to render our service to Him in honor of His glorious name, which is due him.  And our greatest service in prayer is our faith.  When we pray with faith we pray with a spirit of thankfulness to God for the sacrifice of His Son; hence, we pray believing in Him, with a desire to do His will.


The above article is an excerpt from this book.

The following descriptions will be covered in upcoming blogs:

 4. Prayer is letting Jesus come into us and heal us.

 5. Prayer is an expression of our fellowship with God.

6. Prayer is something we do naturally.

7. Prayer is dominant desire.

8. Prayer is a struggle.

9. Prayer is expressing the absence of God.

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Three Types of Petitions—from the Disciples Prayer

The following article is an excerpt from this book.


When we look at the Disciples Prayer (or The Lord’s Prayer), I believe we see three types of petitions that Jesus taught (Matthew 6:8-13).


 1. Invocation

We get this idea from the first three requests:  “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name; Your Kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

This first type of petition, according to Jennings, is the invocation of our prayer; it is the summoning of the Spirit of God that He would come to us and be God to us, to help us pray and do His will.5  

Yes, it is asking Him to help us pray that His name be hallowed–let Your name be hallowed. And bring your kingdom to us; and bring your will to us.

But it is even more than that.  It is asking Him to bring His love and fellowship to us, to bring His companionship and communion and friendship to us.  The whole idea of praying that He would be real to us and that His kingdom comes to us, according to Jennings, “suggests eating and drinking and companionship.”6

And we get this idea also from Revelation 3:20, where we see the image of Jesus knocking at our hearts door wanting to come into us, to sup with us and us with Him.  Here it is important to see that all prayer does not begin with ourselves.  He starts it.  Therefore, when we say that this type of petition is an invocation, that we are summoning God to come to us, we must remember that He has already summoned us to come to Him.  Our summoning Him is just a response to His summoning us.

O Hallesby comments on Revelation 3:20: “… [It] affords a new glimpse into the nature of prayer, showing us that God has designed prayer as a means of intimate and joyous fellowship between God and man.”7

I agree. The nature of prayer is a means of obtaining fellowship with Him.  And though we are separating out this type of petition as suggesting that it should come first, as to invoke God at the beginning of our prayer time to come to us and help us pray, this type of prayer is really also at the heart and core of all prayer.  Yes, it is the nature of all prayer to desire that God would be present with us—to commune with us and be God to us.

Therefore, the nature of prayer is the desire of the soul for God; it is a crying out to God for fellowship and help.  We see this most vividly in the prayer of David when he prayed, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1-2a).  Again in Psalms 63:1 David prays, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is not water.”

The second type of petition is…


2. That He would give us the things we need

Though this type of petition also includes the summoning of God to come to us and be God to us (since that is the nature of all petitions), it is different in that it is more specific as to our needs.

In this type, as in the Disciples Prayer, all the things we need can be grouped into three categories:  (1) for our daily bread (“Give us this day our daily bread”)—for all the physical things we need  for  survival:  food, clothing, shelter, etc.; (2) for forgiveness (“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive out debtors”)—that which we need for our spiritual life in order to maintain peace with God; and (3) for guidance and deliverance (“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”)—that God would take care of us and protect us from all forms of evil.

The third type of petition is…


3. Intercession

At first glance you may not see this type of petition in the Disciples Prayer.  Perhaps to you it appears that all the requests are personal.  And you are right; they are all personal.  But if you look closer you will discover that they are all intercessory prayers as well, because the prayer does not address the Father as “my father” but as “our Father.  Thus, if we pray the way Jesus wants us to pray, all prayer (all true prayer) is intercession.

According to Jennings,

Intercessory prayer is not some extra or dispensable sort of prayer; it is essential to the character of prayer itself that it be offered not only on my behalf but on my neighbor’s behalf as well.  That all prayer is intercessory prayer is already implicit in the claim that the one to whom prayer is addressed is not ‘my Father’ but ‘our Father’…That we pray for one another is the necessary consequence of the communal and corporate character of Christian prayer.8


One of the Biblical words used for intercession is palal, used eighty times in the Old Testament.  If you look at each time the word is used, you will see that it was used strictly by those who were dedicated to God and were great in prayer. Abraham was one of those great one’s who prayed and delivered Abimelech and his household (Gen. 20:7, 17).  Likewise, Moses, by his prayers, was used by God over and over again to deliver the people of Israel (Nu. 11:2, 21:7, Duet. 9:20, 26).  Hannah was also used by God to raise up Samuel (1 Sam. 1:10, 12, 26, 27) who himself became one of the greatest intercessors who ever lived.  And there are several others such as David and Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, Hezekiah, Ezra and Nehemiah, and Isaiah and Jeremiah.  All these and more interceded and were great for God in prayer.

Do you want to be great for God?  If you do, choose now to dedicate yourself to selfless intercession.  And He will bless you for it.


5 Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., Life as Worship, Prayer and Praise in Jesus Name, pp. 43-45.

6 Ibid., p.21

7 O. Hallesby, Prayer (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1931), p. 12.

8 Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., Life as Worship, Prayer and Praise in Jesus Name, p. 57.

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The Petition Part of Prayer


As I see it, from my study of this topic, there are two very basic natures or meanings of prayer: (1) petition, and (2) soul to soul communication with God (which really includes all parts of prayer). In this post we will focus on petition.

According to the original Biblical words translated for us as “prayer,” every Hebrew and Greek word I studied (three Hebrew words and eight Greek words) indicate that prayer is petition—asking God for something.  It is an expression of a wish or a desire; Christian prayer is an expression of a wish or desire to God.  We see this particularly in the following Greek words: euchomai (to pray to God, to wish for), deomai (to desire, to want, to ask, and to beg), and deesis (a wanting, a needing, then an asking, entreaty, and supplication).

Here we see in these words that desire comes first, and then we express that desire with a request in order to receive from God what we desire.  That is the nature of petitionary prayerpretty simple.

But another thing to remember is that in true prayer the desire must come from God.  We see this illustrated in Matthew 9:36-38. Jesus, after seeing the weary and scattered multitudes (like sheep without a shepherd), was moved with compassion for them, and therefore urged His disciples to pray to God (the Lord of the harvest) to send out laborers into His harvest.  Here Jesus perceived that more laborers were needed to minister to the needs of the great multitudes.  So Jesus, having this great desire and compassion to meet the needs of all the people, urged His disciples to pray for more laborers.

Do you see what I am getting at?  Just as the desire of the disciples to pray for laborers was urged upon them and transferred to them by Jesus, our prayers to the Father also must be urged upon us by Jesus.  Thus our desire in prayer must first be His desire.

Now when we look at the Disciples Prayer (or The Lord’s Prayer, as some call it, in Matthew 6:8-13), I believe we see three types of petitions that Jesus taught. I will save that for the next blog.

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What Is the Meaning of Prayer?


There are so many different views on the meaning of prayer.  One author, John R. Rice, says that prayer is nothing but petition.  He insists that prayer is not meditation or communion or spiritual enjoyment or praise or confession or humiliation; “[it is simply] asking something definitely from God.”1

Many other authors (that Rice would say are liberal or modern) seem to say the opposite—that prayer is fellowship and communion and friendship with God, and not a demand for His gifts. For example, E. M. Bounds said, “Prayer is communion and intercourse with God. It is enjoyment of God.”2

Ronald Dunn seems to agree with Rice.  He wrote, “Prayer is an act. While we should live in an attitude of prayer, prayer is more than an attitude.”3

Others I have read would disagree.  They would say that since prayer is communion and fellowship with God that would make prayer a consistent attitude and not merely an act.

So, as we see, with just these few authors, there are huge differences.   And there are many other definitions and descriptions of prayer, each different—some are just a bit different, others extremely different.  So what are we to conclude? Whose view should we follow?

Well, let me say right from the start that it is extremely important to know what prayer is, because you will conduct your prayer habits and your life according to that definition of prayer that you choose.  But, in saying that, I think it is also important not to be too rigid and narrow-minded in choosing a definition, as I think some authors tend to be. Therefore, I think we should broaden our thinking about the definition of prayer.

I have read so many good definitions of prayer.  And you know what?  I think 98% of them are right—even though they disagree with each other.  So what am I suggesting, that we just agree with all of them because they sound good?  No.  I am suggesting that prayer, and the definition of prayer, is bigger and broader than we may have thought


1 John R. Rice, Prayer Asking and Receiving (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1970), pp. 47-49.

2 E. M. Bounds, The Reality of Prayer (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1978), p. 9.

3 Ronald Dunn, Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1959), p. 184.

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Prayer for Safety and Wisdom at the Singapore Summit

Prayer for Trump and Country

*Please pray for the safety of American and North Korean leaders as they travel to Singapore for the all-important summit.

*Pray for open and honest hearts, and that all deception would be easily revealed and dealt with.

*Pray that God would give President Trump wisdom in what to say and what to do.

*Pray that God would open the eyes of Kim Jong-Un that he would see a better way to rule his people–God’s way.

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The Ark of the Covenant Gives Us a Wonderful Salvation Message

If we study the meaning of each part of the Ark of the Covenant we will receive a wonderful salvation message.

The Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat and the Cherubim was located on the other side of the veil in the Most Holy Place.  There the High Priest entered only once a year to sprinkle sacrificial blood on top of the Mercy Seat.

The appearance of the Ark was quite awesome, not only because of its brilliant gold, but also because of the mysterious light that hovered over the center of it—the Shekinah Glory, which was the glory of the very presence of God.

The Ark itself (without its lid) was just a box, 3 ½ feet long, 2 ½ feet wide and 2 ½ feet deep.  It was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold.  The wood represented the humanity of Christ, and the gold, His deity.

The main purpose of this golden chest (it appears) was for the safe keeping of three very important articles: Aaron’s rod, the golden pot of manna, and the two tablets of stone on which were written the Ten Commandments.  Much could be said about these articles and what they represent; however, let me tell you what Charles Fuller has said about them.  “… [They were] articles most cherished because they signified God’s mighty, miraculous deeds on Israel’s behalf.”

The most impressive part of the Ark was its cover, which was made of pure gold.  But it was not just a flat piece of gold.  Two Cherubim were hammered out from it, one on each end, which were made to have their wings spread upward and overshadowing the cover, each with eyes that gazed down at the blood sprinkled on the cover, also called the Mercy Seat (Ex. 25:17-22).

According to Charles Fuller, their gaze upon the blood was quite significant.  He said, “If the Cherubim’s attention was constantly focused upon the shed blood of sacrificial animals in the Old Testament times, how much more should our attention be centered upon the cross, where Christ’s blood made atonement for our sins!”

This is so true, but I would emphasize here that God intended for us to see the cherubim gazing not at the blood of animals, but rather at what the animal’s blood represented—the precious blood of Christ.  Those Cherubim I believe were made to be in awe not of the shed blood of animals, but of the blood of Christ shed for us.  That is, they were in awe, as we should be, that God loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16).

Moreover, the Mercy Seat was for Israel—and also for us—a covering.  For Israel (in Old Testament times), it was meant not only to keep the dust off of the articles in the chest, but also to cover, or to put a lid on the wrath of God—which proceeded from the tablets of stone in the ark (God’s written law).  Stories have been told of those who peered into the Ark and died from the power of God (1 Sam. 6:19).  And we will also perish if we try to live according to the law of God on our own strength, because we have all transgressed His law.  As Galatians 3:10 states, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’”

Accordingly, we must now rely on what the blood sprinkled Mercy Seat represents for us: the blood of Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins—which, in fact, it is.  But it covers not all people, it covers only those who have come to the place where the Shekinah Glory hovered—to repent of their sins and cry out to God for mercy.  There at the mercy seat, which represents the cross, God applied (and will continue to apply) the blood of Christ to our heart, which forgives our sins, and covers (appease, propitiate) the wrath of God for us forever.

Praise God!  Forever He clothes us in righteousness.  As Charles Fuller writes, “Our own righteousness is as filthy rags, but if we take Christ to be our propitiatory covering we will be clothed in the bridal dress of His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).”

So, as we come, finally, to the Ark in our prayer journey, let us thank God that the veil was rent in two at His death—making it possible to come boldly into His presence, to commune with Him at any time.  And let us thank Him for His mercy and for the merciful covering of the blood of Jesus that covers the wrath of God for us who believe.  Let us praise Him and rejoice in His great love for us, for He has given us entrance into His presence and into His realm of glory and kingship.  In this Most Holy Place, surrounded by the Shekinah glory, we sit with Christ on His throne to pray.  Hallelujah!  What great confidence we can have in Him as we pray!

Source: Charles E. Fuller, The Tabernacle in the Wilderness (USA: Fleming H. Revell company, n.d.), p. 80-90.


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Let My People Go!

Prayer for Trump and Country

Please pray with me, and with the author of this post, that  the ungodly leaders of North Korea would hear God’s demand for His people to let them go. Just as the Egyptian Pharaoh let the people of Israel go after being enslaved for 400 years, God can also work in the heart of Kim Jong Un to let the enslaved North Korean’s go.

I urge you to read the rest of this post. It’s very good.

There is little doubt that President Trump knows that nuclear weapons are not the only serious problem with the leader of North Korea. Even with the difficulty of getting news, pictures and first hand testimony out of the rogue nation, enough information is available from secret sources, defectors and those who have escaped from NK […]

via God to Kim Jong Un – Let My People Go! — Inspirational Christian Blogs

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