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Over the centuries, prayer has been defined in innumerable ways by innumerable Christians seeking to promote better comprehension of the experience and to presumably encourage the faithful to spend time with God.
Perhaps than asking “What is prayer?” as a catalyst for reflection, maybe we should ask one question instead, specifically, “How should I pray?” What follows is an attempt to address this question:
Above all else, we should be iconoclastic and seek to break down all existing prejudices and denominational suspicions we may harbor as to how “the other” prays and if what the members of other Christian traditions or denominations do is, in fact, prayer. This takes us off the road to discovery and sets us toward an off-road wild goose chase filled with assumptions most often nourished by ignorance and kept alive by the apathy of the current generation to invest the necessary time to accumulate facts and clear data as to the history, function and purposes of the varied expressions of prayer available to Christians across the centuries.
We are inheritors of 2000 years of Christian worship and prayer practices. No tradition has a monopoly or a hegemonic authority over which Christians are entitled to pray in a certain way or not. As Baptists, we have liberty of conscience and the competency of our very own individual souls to discern, through the Holy Spirit’s direction, what we can, should and desire to use as prayer disciples for the purposes of expressing our adoration and devotion to our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
That being said, the parameters of our prayer practices should be steadfast in addressing prayers to God the Father through Christ Jesus alone; that our intercessory prayers are to Christ Jesus alone for no other individual in Heaven, on Earth or across the universe, has the power and authority to answer prayer and to concede said answers in the form of provision or miracles. There is one Redeemer, Jesus Christ. There are NO co-redeemers in God’s economy of salvation. God was not born, created or conceived. The incarnation was, insofar as His flesh was concerned, but His divinity is eternal and was already present before the foundation of all creation. He is the Logos and He is God.
As long as we remain ever so faithful to these theological underpinnings, our life in prayer and of prayer can be rich, diverse and open to what 2000 years of heritage have to offer for the sake of edifying our walk with the Lord and seeking to bask in His light and mystery.
Let’s be saints together.