What Does Prayer Mean to You & Do You Pray?

"Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee and the lifting of my hands as an evening sacrifice." Psalm 141:2
"Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee and the lifting of my hands as an evening sacrifice." Psalm 141:2 | Source

Prayer is commonly thought of as a type of devotion, where one is engaged in communication with God. There are various kinds of expression, such as that of adoration, or a confession, the offering of thanksgiving, or a kind of supplication, petition or request. We can use standardized words, formalized prayers, or speak freely from the heart, as in a dialogue between two in intimate relationship.

In the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament, much is written about prayer. Conditions for its efficacy and the disposition of the one offering prayer are addressed. There are issues related to the relationship between repentance and belief; sin and one's faith.

In the Gospel of Luke (chapter 11) there is the story of a man who goes to the home of his friend late at night to ask for bread. The friend is settled in and doesn't want to be disturbed. He refuses, saying he doesn't want to get up out of bed. Yet, what he won't do for friendship he ends up doing because of his intruding visitor's persistence.

It is written, "I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence and insistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking, and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking, and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you..." (vs. 8-9, Amplified Bible, italics mine).

The message of importunity and persistence is clear. It is written in the present imperative. We are to keep on asking, seeking, knocking. Andy Andrews refers to the importance of "persisting without exception." Wallace D. Wattles says that we are to hold what we want in our thoughts as a clear picture, with the fixed purpose to get what we want, and the unwavering faith that we will get what we want... by "closing our minds to all that may tend to shake our purpose, dim our vision, or quench our faith."

Napoleon Hill puts it this way, "No one is ready for a thing until he or she believes they can acquire it. The state of mind must be belief, not mere hope or wish. Open-mindedness is essential for belief. Closed minds do not inspire faith, courage or belief."

Persistence, an inner fire, and belief are key to acquiring our heart's desire. Whether that be answered prayer, inconveniently acquired loaves of bread to provide hospitality, or to achieve success in an endeavor.

Sometimes we make very specific requests for others and for ourselves for healing, for strength or insight, for protection and provision; at other times we pour out our heart expressing our overwhelming gratitude for all we already have. In terms of gratefulness, Rabbi Heschel has written, "To pray is to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the divine margin in all attainments. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living..."

However we pray, it seems imperative that we do it with importunity, an open heart and a clear conscience. Psalm 145:18 says, "The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth." In I Thessalonians 5 we are lovingly admonished to rejoice always, pray constantly and give thanks in all circumstances. When we actually do this, everything changes.

Do you pray? If so, how? What does it feel like to think we are supposed to be shamelessly persistent and insistent in our prayers? What is it like to think of our prayers as an actual offering to God, like the burning of incense in a holy place? Or the lifting of our hands as a kind of sacrifice? What experiences of prayer have you had that have made a difference in your life?


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Comments 6 comments

NMLady profile image

NMLady 3 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

Yes, I pray. However, it is more of a casual prayer rather to one that uses formal words. I see God as being with me at all times. So, why would I get all thous thees, beseech etc. and such when I pray....it isn't like I talk that way! LOL!


Linda Compton profile image

Linda Compton 3 years ago from The Land of Enchantment Author

Well, a hearty AMEN to that! Thank you for stopping by and for taking time to comment! I am nodding AND smiling. L.


lovedoctor926 3 years ago

Excellent hub. I agree with the message of importunity. that we are to keep asking, seeking and knocking, but we must first have the faith and belief that we are going to achieve it. I agree with Napoleon Hill. This also reminds me of the quote. "Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and sees the impossible." Of course, we must also work hard to attain our goals or whatever it is that we want in life, but persistence is the key to success. Yes, I pray for strength, for guidance, for good health and for the health of my family. I thank God for all the blessings in my life. voted up awesome!


Linda Compton profile image

Linda Compton 3 years ago from The Land of Enchantment Author

Dear Love Doctor,

Thank you so much for your kind and generous comments. I really appreciate what you shared. Blessings, L.


izettl profile image

izettl 3 years ago from The Great Northwest

I like the way Napoleon Hill phrases it. Very true! I got discouraged about prayer. I prayed so much, so fervently when I first got Rheumatoid Arthritis and I was in so much pain and yet I still have the disease. However since then I have learned to pray differently and more in line with trusting what God wants for me. Some very positive things have come from my illness. I now believe prayer is more a conversation than a wish list or fast food order. Great hub and question to ponder...


Linda Compton profile image

Linda Compton 3 years ago from The Land of Enchantment Author

Dear Izettl,

Thank you for your beautiful, thoughtful, candid reflections. I so appreciate your comments. Love that "...more a conversation than a wish list or fast food order." I used to try, quite unsuccessfully, to read Scripture like a newspaper; now I read it like the love letter it is.

Yes! I was so taken with the writings of Nap. Hill that I created a card series, pairing some favorite quotes with 7 of my original nature photographs. The Napoleon Hill Foundation gave me copyright permission to market them. Given what you've shared and your approach now, I imagine you experience many positive things on a regular basis! I'm grateful for our connection and am now looking forward to your hubs! Abide in the Positive, L.

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