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Prayer is for Real

• Greg Boyd

Prayer was a way of life for Anna. She worshiped and prayed both night and day. As believers we know that prayer is powerful and effective. However, sometimes it is hard to know how to pray. It can become difficult to concentrate and feel that prayer is real. The example of Anna and others throughout scripture teach us three basic principles for an active and meaningful prayer life.

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Prayer was a way of life for Anna. She worshiped and prayed both night and day. As believers we know that prayer is powerful and effective. However, sometimes it is hard to know how to pray. It can become difficult to concentrate and feel that prayer is real. The example of Anna and others throughout scripture teach us three basic principles for an active and meaningful prayer life.

One basic principle found in scripture is to be real with God. Pray the truth. When we go before God in prayer, it is important to lay before him everything that is on our hearts. Often in prayer, we only bring before God part of ourselves, and hide those things in our hearts that we are afraid to reveal to him. Job is an example from scripture of someone who told God exactly what was on his heart (see Job 10:8,9,20; 30:21). Like Job, we are encouraged to approach God with honesty and a childlike faith.

Another principle of maintaining an active prayer life is to pray in faith. This means to envision what has not yet happened as though it already has (see Hebrews 11). Although Anna never saw the realization of the redemption of Israel, through faith she believed and prayed over the Christ child. Anna’s prayers and prophecies declared what she had not yet seen with her own eyes to be true. This childlike faith is how we are called to pray.

Finally, we are given examples throughout scripture that encourage us to lift up our prayers to God using our voices. By speaking out loud what is on our hearts, our prayers are more tangible. By doing this, we follow the example of many believers throughout the Bible. In the Psalms, David often cries out to God for deliverance (Psalm 142:1), and also lifts up his voice to God in praise (Psalm 5:3; 66:19). There is power and blessing in using our God-given voices to pray and worship.

Like any relationship, prayer should be a constant communication with God. We should not look at prayer as an event, task or ritual we perform at certain times of day. Rather, prayer is an active and living expression of our faith. Our relationship with God will become more meaningful as we seek him continuously in prayer.

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Topics: Faith, Prayer


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 2:36-38

    There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then had been a widow for eighty-four years. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

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