Prayer is meant to give you a personal, direct line of communication to the Creator of the universe. You can make requests of the Almighty God and have Him direct some of His unlimited power to fulfill them, be they for peace, prosperity, protection, wisdom, healing or myriad other blessings for you, your family, friends, enemies, nation or the world.
Many people, however, find that their experience fails to live up to that promise, certainly with consistency. Many wish they received more answers to their prayers. Many people who believe in the power of prayer still want to be more effective at praying.
Are your prayers being answered? If not, why not?
Often we hear public expressions of and calls for prayer, particularly after crises hit, from heads of state, leaders in politics, business and religion, relatives and others: “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.” “Our prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy.” People hold prayer vigils. Many individuals seek to commune with God when terror strikes our nations or illness afflicts a loved one.
Do these prayers make any difference? Is God listening? A growing number of people today believe the answer is no. In a secular world, more people even mock the idea of prayer.
This question needs to be answered. If these prayers are not being heard, why even pray? Yet if they are being heard, then why do we still see so much suffering, trouble and strife around us? Look at the state of the world: Billions of people languish in poverty and illiteracy, climatic disasters are breaking records, wars rage on most continents, and the doomsday clock ticks close to midnight. Why? Is it because God cannot hear us? Or does He hear—and refuse to answer? Or is there another explanation?
What Is Prayer?
The Bible has much to say about prayer. The book you are reading is written according to the foundational belief that what the Bible says is true—that it can be trusted and ought to be followed.
Scripture gives a great deal of instruction on how to pray. It explains to whom we should pray, our attitude when praying, what we should pray about, and many other details. It gives many spectacular examples of answered prayer and many promises from God to answer prayer.
If you apply yourself and implement what this book teaches, you will gain access to Almighty God! He will listen to you. This privilege is worth more than all the gold on Earth!
Prayer is not mental magic or mumbo jumbo. It is not a psychological pep talk that makes you feel better.
The Hebrew word for prayer used most often in the Old Testament means intercession, or supplication. The literal meaning is to prostrate oneself, or bow down. In the New Testament, the Greek term translated prayer means to supplicate, worship or make prayer.
Supplication is an earnest request or humble entreaty. To supplicate means to ask for earnestly and humbly. To entreat means to make a request in an earnest or urgent manner. Prayer can also refer to intercession or a plea. These definitions are all contained in the one word prayer.
Prayer, then, is intercession or earnest, intense supplication with God.
Prayer is our part of a two-way conversation with God. God talks to us through His written Word, the Holy Bible, and we can talk to Him through prayer. This allows us to get to know God as He comes to know us.
When you study the Bible, God is talking to you. When you pray, you are talking to Him. You get to really know God in this manner, just as you become better acquainted with people by conversation.
—Herbert W. Armstrong, The Incredible Human Potential
Real prayer is communication with Almighty God through our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is us talking to our heavenly Father in an attitude of humility, contrition, awe, reverence and deep respect. It is backed by the power and authority of Jesus Christ.
During Jesus’s ministry on Earth, His disciples asked Him, “Teach us to pray.” How did Christ respond? “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say …” (Luke 11:2; also Matthew 6:5). He didn’t say, “If you pray.” God expects to hear from us. Matthew 6:11 makes it plain that we should pray daily and ask God to supply our needs.
Notice Luke 18:1: “And he [Jesus Christ] spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” And in Luke 21:36, Christ said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always.”
The God who sits at the controls of the universe is a living, active God. The Bible reveals that He controls all power, energies and forces. The fourth chapter of Revelation gives a spectacular description of Him in His heavenly throne room. He sits on a magnificent throne overlooking a dazzling glassy sea that gleams like crystal. Surrounding Him on lesser thrones are 24 impressive spirit beings wearing crowns of gold who serve as His counselors. Around His throne are four more spirit beings of even greater office, power and brilliance. And at His right hand is the living Jesus Christ. Out from God’s throne proceed flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder—and angelic messengers going to and from Earth.
Do you know this God? Do you pray to this God? You should!
God is more real than you or I—or any of the things about us.
Why, then, does He seem so far away, until it seems He has faded in the distance? Why does He seem mysterious and unreal? Why do the objects with which you come in daily contact, your friends, your pleasures, seem more real—when actually they are less so?
You may say, “Because I can see, feel and hear these things or people.”
But that is not really the reason at all.
You don’t see the air you breathe, but it seems very real to you. You cannot see or hear or feel the power of gravity, yet it seems very real to you ….
Perhaps you say, well, these things are real to me because they are close to me. But that is not the reason. God is as close as any of these—He, too, is real, and He is close! Yet He seems unreal and far away!
Now let me tell you the real reason. … God seems unreal and far away only to those who have not established and are not actively maintaining close personal contact! It is not a matter of distance or visibility—it is a matter of contact.
—Herbert W. Armstrong, Plain Truth, May 1963
As great and powerful as the true God is, He delights in the person who seeks to know Him and talk to Him in prayer (Proverbs 15:8).
This excerpt is taken from our book How to Pray. Click here to request your free copy.