Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

The Five W’s of Prayer: Part 1

on January 25, 2012

From Microsoft OfficePrayer should be easy and come naturally from us. After all, God created us to have a relationship with him, and a huge part of any relationship is communication, the ability to talk to one another. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, that natural, easy communication with one another and with God became broken. Adam ate the forbidden fruit, suddenly became aware of his iniquities and hid from God in shame. [3] God never stopped communicating with Adam—Adam stopped communicating to God out of shame and fear.

We inherited this brokenness. As such, it is our own fears, desires, shame and sin that make prayer difficult. However, the story doesn’t end with Adam. We can learn about prayer from many different people in the bible—Abraham and the prayer to save others (Gn 18:27), Moses and the prayer of the mediator (Ex 33:12-17), David and the prayer of the king (2 Sam 18-29), Elijah and the other prophets regarding the conversion of heart (1 Kgs 18:36-37), the Psalms as a prayer of the assembly, Saint Paul and his many letters (Rom 8:27), and Mary the mother of God (Lk 1:46-55) are just a few. [1,3] The most important figure for us to learn from is Jesus. It was Jesus, God made man, who came down from heaven to restore our relationship back to God.

We inherited that brokenness, but Jesus came to heal us and to teach us how to have a relationship with God. With his help, we can learn to communicate with God again.

What is Prayer?

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” (CC 2559) [1]

From Microsoft OfficeSome people might think that prayer is just talking to yourself or delusions that the invisible will listen to you. Others only pray in time of need or only of requests of God. In fact, prayer is much more. Prayer is communication with God. It is spending time with him and the basis of our relationship with him.

Mother Angelica says it beautifully in her book titled Journey into Prayer.

The word Prayer means many things to many people. To some it means asking for “things”—for health or success. To others, it means repentance, imploring God’s Mercy for their sins and infidelities. Prayer is Praise and Thanksgiving to many and to the majority it is a cry in times of distress.

Prayer is all these things, but it is more. It is Union of Love: God’s Love and your love; it is an awareness of God’s love for you—His personal love.” [2]

Why Do We Pray?

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14, emphasis added) [3]

From Microsoft OfficeJesus said to ask and it shall be given (Mt 7:7). [3] Let us keep in mind however our feelings for a family member who only speaks to us when they want something. It becomes irritating, and there is little for a relationship to build on. While it is good to ask of God our needs, as he wishes to provide for us, let it not be the only reason we pray. Let prayer be a covenant, a communion and a seeking of the face of God.

Who Can Pray?

From Microsoft OfficeAnyone. This may seem like a silly answer, but it is the basis of Christianity. There are no barriers based on gender, race, or (oddly enough) religion. Anyone can come before God, humble themselves and pray. God listens to what is in our hearts and responds accordingly. I remember when I was not yet a Christian; I fell to my knees and asked God for his salvation. I do not find it a coincidence that I became a Christian a month later and was baptized a month after that. God still heard my prayer to him, despite my lack of willingness to follow him and his church.

There are examples of pagans praying to God in the bible. One such example is the book of Jonah. Jonah, a prophet of the Lord, was sent to the pagan city Nineveh to warn them that the judgment of the Lord was upon them and that if they did not repent, the Lord would destroy the city. The people listened, put on sack cloth and repented. They called to God to spare them, and God listened. [3]

When and Where will be covered in Part 2.

References

[1] Catholic Catechism (CC), available online

[2] Mother Angelica, Journey into Prayer, available online

[3] The Bible, available online

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One response to “The Five W’s of Prayer: Part 1

  1. […] that we have covered the high level of what prayer is, who can pray, and why, when and where we should pray, one major question remains. How do we pray? It seems like such a […]

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