On the theology side, I know God is omnipresence which means He is always near me. However, I believe not only is He near me, He is also there to sympathize with me and to give me favour. When I pray and confess His name, God does not leave me alone to battle the world, He is by my side. Formal prayers or false professions will never bring me to the relationship that God wants to have with me. To pray with true professions means I need a true heart marked by humility and with passion – anything else would make prayer a lie.
He is near to those who call to him,
who call to him with sincerity.
He supplies the needs of those who honor him;
he hears their cries and saves them. – Psalm 145:18-19 GNT
I believe that there are unlimited answers to my prayers that come from the riches of God’s grace that comes in Jesus. From my desire to pray, coming out of my expression of need, I find what makes a genuine and effective prayer.
God’s people are a praying people, a generation of seekers, and such commonly are speeders. God never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain. They seek his face, righteousness and strength, and he is found of them … The saints alone betake themselves to God and his help, run to him as their sanctuary; others fly from God’s presence, run to the rocks, and the tops of the ragged rocks, call to the hills and the mountains; but a child of God goes only and tells his Father, and before him lays open his cause; as good Hezekiah did, when Rabshakeh came out against him; “O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me”; or the Church ( Isaiah 33:2 ), “Be thou our arm every morning, and our salvation in time of trouble.” They only sensibly need, and so alone crave and implore divine succour; and God will not suffer his people to lose the precious treasure of their prayers. “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him; he will fulfil their desire, he will hear their cry”, etc. That God who prepares his people’s heart to pray, prepares also his own ear to hear; and he that promises to hear before we call, will never deny to hearken when we cry unto him. As Calvin saith: “Oppressions and afflictions make man cry, and cries and supplications make God hear.” –F. E., in “The Saint’s Ebenezer”, 1667.
Definition of prayer – “call to Him“; variety in prayer – “call, cries, honour“; essential characteristic of prayer – “sincerity“; where is God when I pray? – “near“; assured success of prayer – “supplies, hears, saves.”
The story of the blind men being healed give me an illustration about how to pray. There are a number of truths I have gleaned from what looks like a simple account of what took place with Jesus.
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd was following. Two blind men who were sitting by the road heard that Jesus was passing by, so they began to shout, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”
The crowd scolded them and told them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked them.
“Sir,” they answered, “we want you to give us our sight!”
Jesus had pity on them and touched their eyes; at once they were able to see, and they followed him. – Matthew 20:29-34 GNT
I believe they were desperate to get through to Jesus and I believe Jesus appreciated that desperation. There was no formality, they opened their mouths and exercised their right to cry out in their incredible desire to connect with Him.
They did not look for someone else to connect with Jesus – they did not seek for an intermediary. They knew they could have access to call on Him directly.
When they connected with Jesus, they presented themselves in a simple and straightforward manner. No need for fancy words or the right combination of words.
They specifically asked Jesus what they wanted – what is important here is how they didn’t pray. Do I not sometimes come in a round about way to making my request? What takes 1 minute to pray, I take 5 minutes for it to come out of my mouth.
They shouted out loudly – even when I know God is not deaf and already knows what is in my heart, but it sure helps keep my spirit, and thereby my prayer, focused on Jesus. I know this is something I rarely do – I am one to pray silently – I am usually engaged with my thoughts, anxieties or feelings. Howeve, there seems to be an ability, in exercising my prayer out loud, that strengthens my prayer life.
I can pray to God about all the matters of my life – prayer is simply a personal, direct conversation between Him and I. Even when He does not respond directly to my request, or even answers differently than I expected Him to, I am assured that what matters to me matters to Him and that He cares about what bothers me or weighs me down.
The first four benedictions work variations on a common theme with the words “Blessing” and “Amen” holding key positions. … When the time comes to provide a conclusion of the fifth book, the Blessing and the Amen, wonderful and powerful as they are, are dropped in order to bring the Hallelujah front and center as the controlling word. Psalm 150 begins and ends with Hallelujah, but also uses it internally. These hallelujahs are cannonades: thirteen times this strongest of all Hebrew praise words thunders across the earth reverberating the eucharistic end of prayer. There is more. Psalm 150 does not stand alone; four more hallelujah psalms are inserted in front of it so that it becomes the fifth of five psalms that conclude the Psalter – five hallelujah psalms, one for each “book” of the Psalms, and the last, the 150th doing double duty as the conclusion to both the fifth book and to the five books all together. – Eugene Peterson