by Jonathan Jenkins
Excerpt from the Tract:
It is understandable that prayer is so unsettling for some. The fact that one takes the time to pray implies a belief that someone can hear that prayer; He has the power to produce some change in the prayer’s life; and He is willing to act on the behalf of the person petitioning to Him. Yet, those thoughts paint a complex image of God. They demand the omnipotence of God. He is powerful enough to control the events of the world in which my life is lived. However, those thoughts also demand a personal, caring God who is concerned about one individual in a multitude of billions. At the same time, we are hesitant to approach an all-powerful being and also longing to speak intimately to a being who cares so much for us. That dichotomy moves us to address Him with great apprehension and carefulness in our language. Yet, we long for the personal connection that can only come from the informality of speech protected within the bond of friendship. Truly, there is no mystery why we are so easily moved to adopt the language that we hear in prayer from others.
The Bible does provide us a great deal of support in our desire to approach God in prayer. There are hundreds of examples of prayer in its pages. There are also specific texts within it that address the questions of how we should pray and what we should pray for. This essay will provide a survey of those issues. It will discuss the nature of our prayers – what form should they take? It will discuss the purpose of our prayers – for what kinds of things should we be asking God? It will also examine the power of prayer – what are the limits of what God will do in answer to our prayer?
However, before we begin an important reminder is needed. The verses referenced in the body of this essay and the concepts drawn from them should not be taken as a discouragement to prayer. The Bible’s instruction about prayer is intended to provide a pathway of comfort in our personal devotion to God. The intent of a person’s heart as he prays is far more important than the specific form manifested in his prayers. The Bible’s charge is to pray without stopping (1 Thessalonians 5:17), not stop praying until you get it right. While you continue to pray, use the biblical instruction that follows as an aide to grow in your prayers.