What is prayer to the Christian? Among many topics, prayer is one regarding which countless sermons have been preached, endless conversations had, and classes taken. It is a preponderance of endless measure inspiring awe, questions, and praise. Though many can discuss what prayer is, I have yet to meet one who can authoritatively discuss how it works. Prayer is, in part, a mystery and one that is worthy of every Christian's thoughts.
If there is one thing I have learned through my time overseas, it is that prayer is a great privilege. Consider it. In prayer we are talking with God! I think often times we as Christians take very much for granted the fact that we have this unbelievable gift of approaching the throne of the Almighty Creator of the universe and speaking with Him.
For Muslims, the Christian concept of prayer is far off and far fetched. For these, prayer is a meaningless repetition of vain words spoken five times a day at scheduled intervals facing a particular direction. They will tell you that in prayer they are not, truly, speaking with God. They will also tell you that God may or may not hear them, he may or may not care, and he may or may not respond. I had a friend once look at me utterly flabbergasted when I told her I spoke with God on a daily basis. Her response to my statement was, "No! No man can speak with his God!" Needless to say, we went on to discuss how this was, in fact, very possible.
For many religions, prayer is an instrument through which one hopes they reach God. For others prayer is a cleansing ritual or an act of obedience in hopes of avoiding the wrath of God. For yet others prayer is a mystical exercise by which the self is aligned with the universe. ONLY in Christianity is prayer actually sitting at the foot of the Creator and receiving His listening ear!
Prayer is not vain repetitions or memorized words. It is not petitioning a genie who you hope will grant your three wishes. It is not an overture to a harsh and unloving God. How devastating prayer would be if it were so! The fact alone that prayer, boiled down, is simply "talking with God," ought leave us in awe and wonder. We are talking with God! My mind cannot fully comprehend such an incredible mystery but let me tell you, I will exercise my right as a child of God and embrace this precious privilege!