By Akin Ojumu

There are two vital elements of Christian living, namely the study of God’s Word, i.e., Bible, and Prayer. These two ingredients are the most important activities that keep the fire of God alive in the heart and soul of the Christian. They are the true test of spirituality of a Believer. When any of these two is missing or deficient in any way, the result is a Christian with stagnated spiritual growth and arrested spiritual development.

An effective and fervent prayer life rests on the solid foundation of understanding of God’s Word. You will never know what to pray and how to pray unless you know what the Bible says about God, His will, and purpose. Our prayer will amount to punching the air if we do not know what the Bible says about our lives, needs, and problems. 

Prayers cannot be in a vacuum. Without the knowledge of God’s Word, we’ll always pray amiss. For our prayer to be effective, it must be accompanied by a comprehension of God’s Word. We cannot know God’s truth without studying God’s Word. It is the study of the Word of God that infuses meaning and injects fervency into our prayer lives.

However, because modern-day Christians have a warped view of God, there are many in the Church today whose understanding and practice of prayers is no different than the pagans. There are those who, like the Stoics, see God as an apathetic, unfeeling, and indifferent deity who must be regularly appeased to get his attention. 

Then there are others who subscribe to the Epicurean view of God, as a detached and uninterested deity who is totally isolated from all human conditions and who must be cajoled, conned, and bribed before he can dispense any favor. This distorted image of God then causes these people to completely miss the very essence of prayer.

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus warns us not to be like them. God is our Father, Jesus tells us. As a Father, He knows our needs and cares about our suffering. Our Lord and Savior then went on to lay down the pattern to guide us as we pray. 

“After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father, which art in heaven, 
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. 
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: 
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
(Matthew 6:8-14).

First and foremost, prayer is worship. When we pray, we acknowledge the fatherhood of God and our sonship to Him. In prayers, we hallow His Name because it is a priority for us. Prayers bring us to a place where we get with the program of God by asking for the establishment of His kingdom. 

Prayer is not about forcing God to do our will or bending God to fit our wishes. Rather, in prayer, we are to bend our will into conformity with God’s will and it is to surrender ourselves to His divine purpose. When we pray, we are to ask God to have His way and do whatever He pleases, and that He will grant us the heart of obedience to accept it and the grace to enjoy it. 

The Omniscient God knows all things. So, prayer is not about informing Him about what He doesn’t already know. Prayer brings us into submission to the sovereignty of the Omnipotent and benevolent God who provides everything we need.

Being the recalcitrant and wayward children that we are, when we pray, we throw ourselves at the mercy of God asking for the forgiveness of all our iniquities. In praying, we bring ourselves back into the dwelling place of the eternal God and we are returned into the safety and protection of His everlasting arms. 

In our prayers, we acknowledge His eternal preeminence and everlasting dominion. Because our God is high and lifted up, prayer puts Him in His infinite majestic place.

Lastly, prayer is thanksgiving. All prayers will someday be discontinued, except the prayers of thanksgiving. When the day comes that we have no more to ask for, we will have everything to be thankful for.

Anything short of these, no matter how pious it seems, is an exercise in futility.


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