The Beginning and End of Prayer

Prayer, in the end, is simply an intimate conversation between a child and their heavenly Father. There are always only two people represented in true prayer, you and God. Thus, while there are many kinds of prayer we could talk about, fundamental to them all is simply a conversation, a dialogue between an individual and God. Prayer, thus, begins and ends with God and this reality, I believe, is one the reasons we do not always pray as we should. Because if we really knew and comprehended the nature and character of God, we would pray more!

“Teach Us to Pray.” As one considers the Model Prayer (Lk.11:2-4), he can’t help but be impressed with the God-centered nature of the prayer. The Model Prayer contains six requests on the part of man. The first three are specifically directed to God and that last three focus on human needs that can only be satisfied by God. Jesus, thus, teaches us to remember always that in prayer, God is the focus, not ourselves. Why? Because the way we view God affects the way we live and the way we pray. Focusing on God’s in our prayers helps us to filter out the frivolous and seek out His will and not our own. Thus, when praying, we need to remember that prayer begins and ends with God.

Prayer Begins with God. When we pray we are reminding ourselves that God is always with us. This is essential to prayer because the more we think about God’s being with us, the more it changes the way we act, the way we think and the way we communicate with God in prayer. When we pray we are also responding to the love of God. As John proclaims (1 Jn.4:19), before we ever reached out to God, God already loved us. Thus, in prayer, we are simply responding to that love by bringing our praise, needs and concerns to our heavenly Father. Finally, when we pray we are saying yes to God’s invitation. God wants to be in constant communication with His children and prayer is the means by which the invites us to make this happen. It is important thus to understand that prayer doesn’t start with us, it starts with God.

Prayer Ends with God. “The chief purpose of prayer is that God may be glorified in the answer” (R. A. Torrey). I recently heard some say that the purpose of prayer “is not so that we can get our will done in heaven it is so that we can get God’s will done on earth.” Translation: We simply cannot expect God to fulfill requests in prayer that do nothing to advance His name and His cause in our lives and in the lives of others. The difference between having confidence in our prayers and not is found in the motivation behind them. Whose will are we really trying to get done?

Humans have a tendency to be self-centered and self-seeking and such is often reflected in our prayers. So before you pray to God, here is the question you need to ask: What is in my prayers for God? What, if my prayer were granted, would bring glory and honor to God’s name and lead to the fulfillment of His will? Prayer was never meant to be a laundry list of our personal and often selfish wants. God created prayer for the purpose of communing with His children and so that He might be glorified in the answer. Prayer begins and ends with God!

Brian Mitchell
Jackson church of Christ
Jackson, MO

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