Dr. KP Yohannan: What is Prayer?

If you’ve had similar experiences as I, you may have found how oftentimes in prayer, either public or private, people change their voices and stretch their words, as if talking to some unknown, powerful being a million light years away. Their voice may fluctuate and they may sound as though they were giving a speech or trying to convince God to do something. This, my brothers and sisters, is not to be defined as prayer.

Contrary to a lot of religious examples, prayer need not be just some mystical, super spiritual activity. Simply put, prayer is con­versation between Father and child.

Have you ever noticed how a child comes and talks to his mom or dad? You never need to look for a dictionary to find out the meaning of the words children use. They come just as they are. They come simply. You will never find a child getting into a frenzy and fluctuating his voice as he talks. All you will hear is a small voice, in simple conversation, looking up into the mom’s or dad’s eyes.

One of the most exhilarating experiences for me is when I get a chance to hear a little child pray. It will make you both laugh and cry at the same time. Read some of these prayers from children:

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the nice day today. You even fooled the TV weatherman.

Hank (age 7)

Dear Lord,

Do you ever get mad? My mother gets mad all the time but she is only human.

Yours truly, David (age 8 )

Dear Lord,

I need a raise in my allowance. Could you have one of your angels tell my father?

Thank you, David (age 7)

In Matthew 18:3, Jesus turned to the dis­ciples gathered around Him and taught them an important lesson: “Unless you . . . become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” The way a child prays, in simplicity and trust, is the perfect portrait of prayer.

When we look at the prayer of Jesus in John 17, we find the same picture. Jesus was never closing His eyes and praying in a dif­ferent tone of voice. In fact, we are told that “Jesus . . . lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father’ ” (John 17:1, emphasis added).

What a beautiful portrait of His relation­ship with the Father! Through this example, Jesus was showing us that prayer is simply talking to God—not just as the almighty Creator of the universe, but as the caring, lovesick Father who waits for His child to come, a Father who delights to be with His children.

This entry was written by Dr. KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

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