Prayer is very basic, yet very deep. It is quite simple, yet at the same time, very complex. In my reading I have found nine descriptions of prayer by various authors. In my last two blog articles we found that prayer has been described as …
- Asking and receiving
- Approaching God’s throne
- Our service due Him
- Letting Jesus come into us and heal us
- An expression of our fellowship with God
- Something we do naturally
Here is the last three descriptions of prayer I found.
7. Prayer is dominant desire. This description of prayer I think instructs us well and helps us to see clearly what real, effective prayer is, in contrast to prayer that is not genuine and not effective.
We know that all petitionary prayer begins with a wish or a desire; then we express that desire with a request. This is the basic meaning of prayer—from the Greek word deesis. In fact this Greek word can actually be translated as either desire or prayer. However, real prayer, prayer that is heeded by God, must have a desire that dominates, or over rides, all other desires (that are more of the flesh and not of the spirit). That is, this desire in prayer must be most important, making all other desires of less importance—so that there is no doubt what the number one desire of the heart is; hence there will not be doubting—going back and forth in the mind as to what is desired (“like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind,” James 1:6).
Prayer with this description (having dominant desire) energizes the will so much so that the desire for rest and sleep is forgotten, or even not needed—because this desire in prayer tends to energize the body. This would be the case with a couple “in love”—who would spend hours talking on the phone to each other, not even being aware of the time.
This would also was the case with our Lord who prayed to His Father at night, sometimes all night long (Lu. 6:12). Most of us would regard this kind of prayer as particularly earnest and sacrificial—I mean, it would be something that was hard to do. But if we look at it in the light that Jesus loved His Father and longed to be with Him, we get an entirely different idea. This all-night-prayer of Jesus’ I think was joyous and refreshing. That is because His prayer was made up of a strong desire that put all other desires in second place, even the desire for sleep.
Some (who have subscribed to this description of prayer) have said that we don’t really have to make requests to God; that our strong, dominant desires become our requests. Well I would differ with that idea, because requests are actually part of prayer—desire being the first part. However, if the holy desires we have are strong and dominate all others, they will in fact cause us to cry out to God with requests.
Now here is the thing that is most important in this description: in real, Christian prayer our dominant desires must be holy and from God. This of course goes without saying; all effective prayer must be according to the will of God.
8. Prayer is a struggle. If prayer is dominant desire, then prayer must also be a struggle to keep the mind and the desires of the mind on God’s will—and to keep those Godly desires dominant.
Certainly, every Christian struggles in prayer to keep himself on the narrow road as he journeys through this evil world. We struggle against the world’s system that offers us sex and food and riches and possessions and status. These things are all good gifts of God, and so are good for us in the right proportions and in the right context; but if not, if we use these things for our own pleasure and in disobedience to God, then they can be very damaging and corrupting; and it is sin.
Our struggle in prayer then is obviously not only a struggle against outward forces of the world, but also with inward forces of our own flesh. We struggle in prayer with selfishness, our love of ease, and all kinds of lusts. We struggle with our pride and with our temper and with our unwillingness to obey God and to forgive others and to pray for them.
And of course, perhaps most of the time unknowingly, we struggle in prayer against the devil and his demons, who are constantly urging us to relax in prayer—I mean to fall asleep and to quit praying. And they also keep putting things in our mind as we pray to distract us and confuse and discourage us. Yes pray is definitely a struggle.
9. Prayer is expressing the absence of God. Theodore W. Jennings Jr., in his book, Life as Worship, Prayer and Praise in Jesus Name, says, “In prayer we express the absence of something.” This something he says is God. He said, “Prayer expresses our need and desire for God, a need that grows out of our godlessness and godforsakenness.”
I like what Jennings has said; but it describes only the petition part of prayer, the part that is always crying out to God for what we need. Another part of prayer is praise. This part, does not express our lack and His absence; it expresses our joy in His presence. This is the part I think that will be most dominant in heaven.
The above article is an excerpt from this book.