What is Prayer?

By Chris Baxter

Prayer is hard to define. It's certainly mysterious. I don't know that I will ever fully understand it; however, what I do know is this, I am commanded to do it.

To simply explain prayer to myself and others, I say that it is a pouring out of our hearts to the Lord.

First of all, let's not forget that God poured out first in order that this line of communication is even possible. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, his Spirit now abides in all those who believe in him; so when we pray, we don't have to shout to the heavens to be heard. Rather, he's closer than the air we breath.

So with this in mind, let's start pouring!

We can use the acronym POUR to help us in our communication:

P--Praise

I remember asking God a long time ago, "God, why do I need to praise you? You KNOW who you are." And then I heard a gentle whisper back to my heart, "Yes, I do know, but you don't." Ahh, he was right.

When we acknowledge who God is in our hearts and minds, our faith revives. We humans tend to forget that God is Able and Almighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Holy and True, Intentional and Pursuing. We praise him because he is worthy of it. And we praise him so that we remember that he is Greater than any of our daily issues.

O--Offer thanks

How quickly I can get on the complain-train. Why do I go negative in my thoughts? To remedy this muddled mentality, I must switch tracks. Thankfulness is a choice that I have to make.

What are you thankful for, small and big? Make a mental list, or better yet write it down so you can see God's goodness. If you are reading this post, thank him for your eyes that see the page and your mind that comprehends the words. He IS good. A grateful heart is an uplifted heart. Each word of thanks is like the turning of the wheels on a powerful locomotive moving in the right direction.

U--Unload the "ugly"

Let's face it, we all have "ugly" stuff within us. I know my stuff stinks! I need to pour it out to the only One who can truly clean me up: Jesus. And he is always faithful and just to do it! (1 John 1:9). Let's learn from the physical body that God gave us. Just as he designed us to alleviate waste from our bodies, for our good, he also intends us to confess our sins to him, also for our good. It's not about shame. It's about forgiveness. He can handle the stink. Pour it all out and receive his cleansing with humbled gratitude.

R--Requests

Requests seem to come the easiest for us humans, right? I know I can barge into God's throne of grace and start pleading, "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!" And with it, I throw in an impatient, "Now!"

It is true that God wants to hear our every request and that he asks us to be specific. Therefore, I will be persistent with my pleas. But, it is as equally true that he wants to hear our praising voices, our thankful voices, and our repentant voices. These different expressions, including our requests, are the making of a melodious symphony in God's ears.

Rejoice, God has poured out his love into us through Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:5)

Now, let's pour out our prayers to him.

In doing so, we will have the privilege of experiencing a personal and loving relationship with our majestic and mysterious God.

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Daily Prayer

How should I shine?

No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.  Luke 8:16

Dear Lord,

You gave us your eternal light for a purpose. Help us to remove the covering of fear or doubt or passivity that hinders your truth from shining out of us. Instead fill us with strong courage and active faith. May your light within us shine out on whomever we encounter today.  Amen.