God is omnipresent. "In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) Often we lose sight of that reality - the reality of His living and life-giving presence with us unfailingly ALWAYS. We then tend to feel insecure, anxious, lonely, miserable because we are on our own, like a rudderless ship without its compass. Prayer is what makes us ALIVE to the reality of His abiding presence with us. We begin to be aware of His comforting presence regardless of day and night; of prosperity and adversity. We tend to realize that our Forgiving Healing God neither slumbers nor sleeps. His hands remain stretched out to bless us when we steadfastly seek Him in prayer. Futile self-reliance gradually yields way to absolute dependence on God and ensuing blessings. Apart from Him, we can accomplish nothing.
Our Lord commands us: "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation." (Mk. 14:38) "Watch and pray" is an exhortation to be CONSTANTLY prayerful; NOT at our convenience ALONE, but as often as we can. Prayer is BOTH 'a means to an end' and 'an end in itself '. It is a MEANS to keeping Satan at bay, and protecting ourselves from temptations. It is equally a MEANS to reaping heavenly blessings. It is also an END in itself - i.e. magnifying God for His might and majesty. In prayer we reiterate and reaffirm God's supremacy and sovereignty.
Prayer has two integral parts - (i) Praising and (ii) Thanksgiving. We praise Him for Who He really is. We thank Him for ALL His benefits listed in Psalm 103:3-5. They complement each other. One without the other is partial or incomplete prayer, and therefore, ineffective. 'Praising' and 'Thanksgiving' have to be in LIMITLESS PROFUSION. As compared to 'Praising' and 'Thanksgiving', 'petitioning for favors' is of negligible importance. 'Praising' and 'Thanksgiving' would suffice for plenteous favors to be granted without petitioning.
Further elaboration is justified on this point. Habitually, we need to 'Praise and Thank' (i) God the Father for His loving us so much as to send His only begotten Son to our rescue despite our despicable sinfulness and ingratitude; for the gift of the Holy Spirit; and for giving His angels charge of us to guard us in all our ways; (ii) God the Son for washing us clean with His precious blood; for healing us with His stripes; and for His tearful incessant intercession with God the Father whenever we stray from the path of righteousness; and (iii) God the Spirit for His indwelling us and sanctifying us; for enabling us to pray the way we ought to pray; for empowering us to bear fruits of the Spirit; and for renewing us from day to day.
'Praising' and 'Thanksgiving' are the indispensable components of effective prayer. GLORYING IN GOD through 'Praise' and 'Thanksgiving' is the primary purpose of prayer. [To be continued]
Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen