The living God

Meeting God in prayer

Young man praying

Many people have come to realise the truth about God through prayer. Almost all people have had some experience of prayer, from the little child who closes his eyes and asks for help, to the person in fear before an impending operation, from the desert monk in contemplative silence to the loud prayer shouted out on the streets of cities. One saint said, “Fish swim, birds fly, and people pray”. If we believe that God is all present, all knowing, all loving and that we are meant to relate to Him personally, and even as ‘Our Father’, it is obvious that prayer is meant to be a part of every life.

Christians believe that prayer is speaking and listening to God and desiring to be united with God and to do his will. We pray because he is God. It is therefore right to adore him, thank him and repent before him. We also pray because he listens and will act on our behalf when we pray, and because we come to know God, our greatest happiness, through prayer. Christian prayer involves one or more of the following actions before God: adoration, an act offered to God which acknowledges his supreme perfection and goodness; thanksgiving, an expression of gratitude to God for his bounty in satisfying our spiritual and physical needs; repentance, a recognition of the wrong we have done to God by sin together with a desire to turn from evil and do good; petition and intercession, the asking of proper gifts or graces from God for oneself or on behalf of others.

The all-powerful God who created the universe out of love hears not only our spoken prayers, but even the prayers ‘spoken’ in our minds. Furthermore, Psalm 94(93) explicitly affirms that the Lord sees and hears everything that happens and even knows our thoughts. Jesus Christ affirms the same teaching, telling us that our heavenly Father sees all that is done in secret, “Go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 NJB). In this text, Jesus therefore confirms that God hears our prayers and will reward our prayers, even if we are not aware of his presence. So we know that God hears our prayers, both from the fact that he is God and all-powerful, and from explicit teaching of Scripture, including the words of Christ himself.

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