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What is Prayer?

Now there was a certain man at Caesarea names Cornelius,
a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man,
and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many
alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.

– Acts 10: 1-2

Cornelius “prayed to God continually.” How did he do that? We are told to “pray without ceasing” in I Thessalonians 5:17. How can we do that? We have so many other things to do–other activities and responsibilities. I don’t understand, but then maybe I don’t understand just what prayer is?

Prayer is simply recognizing/acknowledging the presence of God in my life. That recognition may come in times of stress or times of joy; at a funeral or at a wedding. It may be acknowledged through a song, through reverence, through meditation, or through constant communication with Him during my day. It may come as I consider the heavens, the song of a bird, the aroma of the flowers around me, or the soft touch of an infant’s hand.

Jesus put considerable emphasis on secret prayer but gave us no instructions about when to pray or specifics about where to pray, except in our own secret place at times. And that “secret place” may be the swing in your backyard, your closet, your car, your bike, your bed, or your bathroom. It might be where you sit when you visit the Botanic Gardens or in your jail cell. The only requirement is acknowledging His presence–He is here with me as I talk to Him right now!

Matt. 6:6 – But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Luke 5:16 – But He slipped quietly away to deserted places for prayer.

Mark 1:35 – And in the early morning while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there.

Many of us have been taught that saying your prayers just before you go to bed at night is the right time. Or going to the “Prayer Room” for your assigned hour; meeting with others on Wednesday night for “prayer meeting.” To think that prayer is limited to an idyllic setting as I kneel by my bed, prostrate myself at the altar or in a dedicated hour is to radically limit my relationship with my Companion. Prayer is simply talking to God through an avenue opened to us because of His Son and spoken through the Holy Spirit.

Conversations with God (prayer) can take place on the gurney as you’re heading for surgery, in the courtroom as you sit there listening, realizing that your marriage is falling apart, in the office taking dictation, or in an important company meeting.

The more time you spend with someone sharing your thoughts, your dreams, your burdens–the more at ease you become with that person. Well, the more time we spend “talking” to the Lord the more comfortable we become in His presence. We can do this “without ceasing.” We can “pray continually.”

What is prayer? Prayer is the “lifeline” of our faith, our passport into God’s presence, and our common denominator with Him, the One who loves us beyond our wildest hopes or expectations and understands all of our idiosyncrasies. Who else could possibly hold that position? Talk to Him. Praise Him. Tell Him that you love Him right in the middle of the cereal aisle at the grocery store!

About the Author

Anabel spent decades teaching in many contexts through Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. She has taught countless others how to have a genuine intimate faith and a sound marriage. She shared from her heart about living from the heart. Lifetime’s beloved founder and mentor passed away November 7, 2010. Her legacy and influence are timeless and priceless.