Holding to Truth

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What Is the Real Significance of Prayer?

What is the real significance of prayer?

Have you ever wondered what is the real significance of prayer and how you can have a vital prayer life with the Lord?

Consider Abraham, Moses and Daniel. Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23) and Moses was called His  companion (Exo. 33:11). God considered Daniel  “a man of preciousness” (Dan. 10:11).

They all had something in common. They learned to have  an intimate contact with God and were changed by it. They didn’t just ask God to answer their prayers, but they spent time in His presence to become one with Him.  This is a much higher standard of prayer!

In contrast, there were cases in the Bible where  God gave people what they begged for—like the children of Israel murmuring for flesh to eat in the wilderness (Exo. 16:8). He answered them by sending quail. They got what they asked for, but became sick because of it.

So what’s the point?

The primary focus of our prayers should not be a matter of getting God to do what we want Him to do. Then what should it be? Then what is the real significance of prayer?

First, prayer is a matter of contacting God and absorbing Him.

In The Life-study of Ephesians, Witness Lee points out,

“The significance of prayer is to contact God in our spirit and to absorb God Himself. Prayer is the human spirit contacting the Spirit of God, through which man absorbs God. Therefore, the significance of prayer lies not in asking God for things but in contacting and absorbing God.” (Message 66, p. 552)

So we need to step back and set aside the prayer lists for now. Consider what prayer really is.

It’s the most basic practice of our Christian life. Like a baby taking their first breath, prayer is our spiritual breathing. So contacting and absorbing the Lord is primary. It’s vital. Answers to prayer are secondary. We should respond by saying,

“Lord Jesus,  thank you for showing me that the primary matter in prayer is to contact You and absorb You into my being. I open to you right now so that you can fill me with Yourself—Your heart, Your mind, and Your will.”

Second, real prayers depend on our using our spirit as the proper organ to contact God in order to absorb Him.

God is Spirit so we must use our spirit, our deepest part, to contact Him.

To continue the illustration…God’s Spirit is the “real air” (John 20:22)  and our human spirit is the organ, the proper receiver.

in  John 4:6-24, Jesus used another illustration. He offered a thirsty sinner a drink of living water.  Then He told her about the right place to give God “true worship”–which in that context, was to drink the living water that He offered her.

So how could she drink the living water? The answer is in verse 24. There Jesus said,

“God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.”

Since God’s substance is Spirit, her spirit was the right place and the right organ to use to “worship God”—to contact God and to drink Him as the living water,  to absorb God into her being.

It’s the same with us today. To see beautiful scenery, we need to use our eyes. To hear moving music, we need to use our ears. And to contact God who is Spirit, we need to use our spirit—the deepest part of our being. Simply tell the Lord,

“Lord Jesus, thank you for making me with a spirit so that I can contact You, receive You and be joined to You as one. Lord, every time I pray, remind me to exercise my spirit so that I can drink You as the living water.”

Third, to pray genuine prayers, we must be in the Holy Spirit.

In Jude 20 it says,

“But you beloved, building up yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”

So how can we be in the Holy Spirit?

Here is one simple and practical way that the Apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Cor. 12:3.  He said,
“…no can say, Jesus is Lord! except in the Holy Spirit.”

We simply need to open our mouth and exercise our spirit—our deepest part, to declare,

“Jesus is Lord! Lord Jesus, I love You!”

By calling on the Lord in such a way, we’re “in the Holy Spirit.”  We get into the “Air” and the “Air” gets into us. Our spirit touches His Spirit. In this way we inhale God, absorb God and are filled with God.

It’s in the fellowship of these two spirits—the Holy Spirit with our human spirit—that we enter into the real significance of prayer.

To build up such a practice of  prayer, here are 10 prayers we can pray every morning.

Do you have some experience of praying prayers that caused you to absorb God and be filled with Him? Please take a moment to leave a confirming comment.

References and Further Resources:

  • This post was inspired by the first section of the outline from message one of  a recent conference on Prayer and the Lord’s Move, and is an update of a previous post.
  • A basic presentation of  this point can be found at the beginning of Life Lessons (vol. 1, lesson 4)
  • You can also read a  more extensive review of  “the real significance of prayer” by a fellow blogger at aGodman.com.
  • In addition, here are  some hymns  to increase your appreciation for the significance of prayer:
  • Picture credit: Clark Russell

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

19 Replies

  1. Matthew 6:10 is a good and brief lesson on prayer. “Your kingdom come.” Surely God wants His kingdom to come on earth, yet He asks us to pray for its coming because God desires to move with man’s cooperation. Praying this simple phrase is a good way to cooperate with God and to absorb Him.

    1. Tom Smith

      I agree. When we pray over the Lord’s words in Matthew 6, it’s not just a recitation of the Lord’s prayer but an entering into the Lord’s heart and absorbing God. Like the tweet I made from Ed Marks’ speaking in Prayer and the Lord’s Move, “we should pray the truths into our lives and then pray them out.” We pray the words of Matt 6 into us and get infused with God and His desire and then when pray them out to make them our petition and supplication–“Lord, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! This is the kind of prayer that the Lord needs today.

  2. Bonnie

    When I got to the phrase, “set aside our prayers lists for now”, I was taken aback. How startling! Aren’t there so many THINGS to pray for and about?!? How easy it is to turn away from the Lord’s dear person and enter into “doing”. Oh Lord, I want to absorb God! Don’t let me be so busy doing things for You, yet not breathe You in! Oh Lord Jesus, don’t let me forget to love You and to tell You so continually throughout the day. The real answer to all our prayers is that God would get into us and spread in us.

    1. Tom Smith

      We don’t forget the needs of the world—sinners that need to saved, believers that need to supplied and edified, the gospel that needs to be spread and the church that needs to be build in order for the Lord to return. However, first things first. God’s way to do all these important things and even many minor things, is by our first contacting and absorbing Him. Actually, God’s solution is to give us more of Himself. He is the incarnate answer (2 Cor. 1:20), the God of Amen (Isa. 65:16)—the God who turns what He promises into Yea and Amen (per note on this verse in the Recovery Version). May we gain Him as the reality in all our praying!

  3. Too often we overemphasize the matter of receiving answers to our prayers while neglecting the very significance of prayer, which is to contact and absorb God in our spirit. I love this! As Jude helps us to realize, we can simply come to the Lord and pray “in the Holy Spirit.” As we practice this kind of prayer, we will feel supplied, refreshed, and strengthened. And, God will have a way to pray in us what is according to His desire.

    1. Tom Smith

      Amen. May we keep this significance of prayer in view. It is such God-constituted people with a history of becoming one with Him, that God hears and through whom He is compelled to execute His will. May we turn from just asking the Lord to do what we want and to enter into His heart, absorb Him—with His mind, His will and His heart so that the words we pray are just Him praying in us. IN this we it is not just a matter of answers to our prayers, but of Him gaining us and through us as His channels carrying out His eternal economy or plan.

  4. When I started to pray this morning, I couldn’t get pass the question: As I called out the names of family and loved ones, I asked God, “Is Prayer Enough?” Is Prayer enough—-Is there something more I could do? My heart is so heavy this morning for those I pray for. Is Prayer Enough?

    Mynder

    1. Tom Smith

      Prayer is first a matter of our contacting God in our deepest part–our spirit. Such prayers enable us to exhale all our burdens–sins, sickness, sorrow and even our self. Then we spontaneously inhale all what God is as our realy supply. When we’re filled with Him, and one with Him, we can pray for others according to His leading. Then as we’re touching the Lord’s feeling for those we’re burdened for, He may give us some feeling as to how to care for them–to speak to them, or simply render them some practical care.

      May you be encouraged to firstly come to the Lord just for Himself and open to Him so that He can fill you and satisfy you. Then you’ll be strengthened to care for others. Here is a hymn that develops this point. It’s lyrics are an awesome pattern for such prayer.

  5. Thanks Tom, if we understood the purpose and real value of prayer our prayer lists would fall to the floor. When we find ourselves before our gracious Father we will find our prayers are already answered before we ask, and the selfish requests have vanished from our minds. Excellent commentary on prayer.

    1. Tom Smith

      It’s so good to see that genuine prayer is to contact God with our spirit and absorb all that He is into our being. It is only in this way that God’s mind, will, and love become ours. Such prayer allows God’s life to spread in us. This is what He is after—to make us His many sons, filled with His life to express Him. May we learn to enter into this deeper significance of prayer. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Agbi shedrack

    I am blessed by the word

  7. M.D.DeWitt,Jr.

    Thank be to God! He Able ! Amen

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. To me, it is really a great light to see that the significance of prayer is to contact God in our spirit and to absorb God into our being. In essence, prayer is our spiritual breathing. So regardless of whether we feel we have any concerns that need prayed for, we still need more of God as our supply, our “spiritual air” so that we can live because of Him. What a view. With this light we see that we need to contact Him moment by moment and the simplest way I’ve found is to call on the name of the Lord Jesus (Rom. 10:12-13).

  8. Carmen

    I needed these words. I felt empty. Today in the churches they emphasize the “list” of prayer, they spread a God that responds orders, as if it were the list of purchases. And one is frustrated if he does not receive the request. Some pastors make statements. “I declare in the name of Jesus that you are …” as if they were directing the will of God. Thank God for finding his blog, it reminded me of the true essence of prayer.

    1. Tom Smith

      Glad you enjoyed the post. The greatest benefit of prayer is to contact God with our spirit and absorb all that He is into our being. We need to come to Him often at the throne of grace to receive Him as mercy and grace for our timely help (Heb. 4:16). Thanks for sharing. May the Lord fill you with more of Himself!

  9. Sharmistha

    Praise the Lord!!!

    1. Tom Smith

      Just remember that the real significance of prayer is to contact God with your spirit and to absorb Him into your being. It is much more than petitioning God to do things for us. We don’t just get answers, we gain God Himself as our portion for our enjoyment. Thanks for the comment.

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