This week, we will focus on the question: What is prayer? In its most general sense, prayer is approaching God to talk to him. People of all religions pray—and even people of no religion pray when their plane loses an engine! But there is no guarantee that he will listen or respond with favour. He is the Holy God, and sinners cannot survive in his presence.
But Christian prayer is much more profound than simply approaching God or talking to him. Christian prayer is approaching God as your heavenly Father. That makes all the difference in the world! When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, the first thing he said was:
When you pray, say “Father…” (Lk. 11:2)
But how can we approach God as our Father? The gospel has two words which explain how Christian prayer is possible: grace and adoption.
God’s grace is his generous love, his love given as a gift through Jesus—not because we did anything to deserve it, but because Jesus did everything for us when he died for us and rose again. And when we receive that love by turning to Jesus and trusting him, God not only forgives us and accepts us. He also adopts us as his loved children, by uniting us with his Son Jesus.
Read the following verses, and reflect on God’s double gift of grace and adoption through Jesus’s sacrifice. If you feel thankful, quietly direct your thankfulness to God your Father.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (1 Pet. 3:18a)
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." (Gal. 4:4-6)
Because of the gift of adoption, prayer for a Christian is a place of peace and comfort, not fear and uncertainty. Because we approach God as our Father, we can have complete assurance that he will listen with love and respond by doing what is best for us. Paul says:
In him [Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Eph. 3:12)
When you pray, do you normally approach God with freedom and confidence, or with uncertainty and doubt? Keep reflecting on this verse, and share your thoughts and feelings with your heavenly Father.