What Is Prayer?

Have you ever thought about what prayer really is? How would you define it? What makes it so important to you? If you look up prayer in a dictionary it says – “A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” This is obviously inaccurate, for we worship no one but God and we also are able to  pray for the well being or healing of others. In addition to that, the definition is missing other things such as adoration to God and confession that He is God. A good definition of prayer is found in the book “When You Pray” by Herman Hanko. He defines it as “…lovers’ talk, for it is a holy conversation between the living and eternal God and the redeemed child of God in which both speak to each other in the most intimate relationship of love.”

Imagine telling other people that you have a best friend or just a friend in general.  Then you get to school and you don’t even talk to that friend. That isn’t friendship. Friendship includes communication. If we are children of God we need to pray, we need to have that back and forth communication.

In our Catechism, Lord’s Day 45 Q&A 116 says that prayer is “…the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us: and also, because God will give his grace and Holy Spirit to those only, who with sincere desires continually ask them of him, and are thankful for them.” This shows the importance of having prayer in our lives. Without it we are left with no comfort, assurance, or hope of salvation. But in prayer we can come before our Father with confidence and know that He is our Keeper and will never leave us nor forsake us (Proverbs 15:8, Isaiah 26:16, Mark 9:29).

Courtney Spronk

 

Morning Prayer

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3).

At what time of the day do you have your first thought of God? This question from a sermon on morning prayer by Rev. Haak really made me stop and think (Sermonaudio.com, A Prayer for the Beginning of the Day, Georgetown PRC, September 17, 2017). When did I first think about God today? Did I sit down and do my morning devotions, meditating on God’s Word and praying for grace for the day? Or was I running late so my morning devotions got dropped? Maybe my first thought of God was a hurried prayer before eating my breakfast, more out of habit than actual gratitude and praise to the One who gave me that food. Or maybe I did say a quick prayer to thank God for the morning and a good night’s sleep before I climbed out of bed. If in God we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28), then how can we take even one step into the day without thinking of God? Yet the sad and humbling truth for most of us is that we too often get pretty far into our day before we stop to think about God.

Thoughts of God come especially when we read God’s Word, meditate upon it, and pray using that Word to guide our prayers. As we begin each day, it’s so important to consciously commit our day to God. In this way we submit to whatever His will may be for the day and look to Him as the only strength for the day’s work. “As we begin our day in prayerful contemplation of the Word and its exposing of our weaknesses and extolling of the Lord’s gracious powers, the Lord will make us strong” (Standard Bearer, Vol. 95, No. 19, pg. 449, “To Teach Them War: Our Marching Orders,” Rev. Brian Huizinga).

As my pastor, Rev. Huizinga, said in a recent sermon, morning prayer is like a tasty lifesaver (Sermonaudio.com, Jesus Praying Before Day, Hope PRC Redlands, August 20, 2017). It’s something to suck on throughout the day, from which to draw satisfaction and comfort. It’s a way to hide God’s Word in our heart, from which we draw strength in whatever joys, difficulties, and temptations we face.

To conclude I want to share a poem from a little book I recently found called Poems That Preach. This poem, called “The Secret,” illustrates the power and importance of morning prayer quite effectively, with the last two lines summing it up very well.

“The Secret” by Ralph S. Cushman

I met God in the morning

When the day was at its best,

And His presence came like sunrise,

Like a glory in my breast.

 

All day long the presence lingered,

All day long He stayed with me,

And we sailed in perfect calmness

O’er a very troubled sea.

 

Other ships were blown and battered,

Other ships were sore distressed,

But the winds that seemed to drive them

Brought to us a peace and rest!

 

Then I thought of other mornings,

With a keen remorse of mind,

When I too had loosed the moorings

With the Presence left behind.

 

So I think I know the secret,

Learned from many a troubled way;

You must seek Him in the morning

If you want Him through the day.

 

Emily Feenstra