Communicating with the Creator
It is very rare for an ‘ordinary person’ to get an audience with the Queen of England, the President of the United States, or similarly powerful world leaders. Their time is taken up with important state affairs and with people who are much more important than you or me. Yet we can approach someone far greater—the Creator God—any time we want!
Most religions are concerned with how people can communicate with and relate to their object(s) of worship. Some religions try to worship their gods with temples and offerings; others are concerned with being ‘good enough’ through strict moral codes. Christianity is totally different. Because of Jesus’ finished work on the Cross, we have our sins forgiven if we turn to Him in genuine faith. And we become in effect God’s adopted children, opening the way for us to communicate with God through prayer—and be assured that He hears us. Yet this privilege is sometimes the most neglected part of our Christian lives.
Our personal, relational God
Unlike the gods of false religions, our God is relational—He is knowable. He has revealed Himself through what He created—this is called general revelation. But as Paul points out in Romans 1, people don’t respond as they should to this general revelation of the Creator, so it only serves to condemn them.
God went further and revealed Himself through His Word which He spoke through the prophets and apostles. Today, we have God’s Word infallibly and comprehensively revealed to us in Scripture—the 66 books of the Bible. God’s Word tells us explicitly who God is and how to have a relationship with Him. The ancient nation of Israel had the first 39 books, which included the account of creation, how sin and death came into the world, who God was, many prophecies of the coming Christ, and the Old Testament Law. But as they found out, knowing all this was not enough to save people from the consequences of their sin.
God’s ultimate revelation to us came through the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1–4). Jesus is God in the flesh, and He showed us the only example of a perfectly sinless human life. Having lived a sinless life, He died to pay the penalty for sin and was resurrected bodily on the third day. The result is that unlike the other two types of revelation, Jesus actually saves us and brings us into personal relationship with God when we trust in Him.
As believers, God communicates with us through Scripture, and the Holy Spirit within us helps us apply the truths of the Bible to our lives helping us become more like Jesus. But a relationship involves two-way communication, and so we have the privilege of speaking to God through prayer. We gain joy and peace through the assurance that God hears us and answers prayer.
Elements of biblical prayer
Jesus is our ultimate example of what a righteous life looks like, and so it is natural for us to look to His example when it comes to prayer as well. Jesus prioritized prayer; we shouldn’t be surprised that, since He experienced the closest relationship possible with the Father within the Trinity before creation, He sought that closeness with Him through prayer.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him how they should pray, He gave them—and us—a model prayer often called the Lord’s Prayer. Sometimes we can pray exactly this prayer, but it also serves as a model for the elements we should regularly incorporate in our own prayers.
Exaltation—Jesus began His prayer with “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). We should always view prayer as an act of worship where our goal is God’s glory, not just presenting a ‘wish list’ for God to fulfill.
Part of this is looking forward to the day when God manifests His rule on earth, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (6:10).
Supplication—“Give us this day our daily bread” (6:11). As Christians, we know that God cares for us and provides for our needs. Jesus often pointed out that God is a good Father who provides for His children. Yet notice the basic nature of the request. It isn’t asking God for a Porsche or even a steak dinner—it’s asking God to fulfill a need, not a want.
Repentance—“Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors” (6:12). Even though God has forgiven us, we still sin, and we need to come to God and confess these sins so that we can continue to enjoy unbroken fellowship with him (1 John 1:9). And as forgiven believers, we also must forgive others. This isn’t so we can continue to be saved, but a sign that we are forgiven in the first place.
Guidance—“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” (6:13). We know that God does not tempt anyone. Interestingly, we are told that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil—the evil one. He was able to withstand this temptation because He is God Incarnate. We know that God always provides us a way of escape from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), and we should pray for God to guard our hearts.
Our capable Creator
The reason God is able to provide for us or even miraculously heal in response to prayer is that He is the Creator. He owns the entire creation and can intervene at any point to manifest His will. So there is nothing too big for God to be able to do, and there is nothing so small that it escapes His notice.
Prayer can be a guilt-inducing part of the Christian life when we feel like we don’t pray enough, or we’re not proficient enough at praying. But we have a loving Father who we can approach at any time through Jesus—why not take advantage of that privilege right now?