Praying the Bible – A Working Definition

Last week, I ran some excerpts of a book I’ve written on the ancient practice of lectio divina. This week, I’ll be posting excerpts from another book called Ask Seek Knock, in which I wrote about how we can use the prayers in the Bible for our own personal devotion. That is, we can prayer the prayers that people in the Bible prayed.

Today, a working definition of prayer. The rest of the week, some of those prayers.

Probably, when most of us think of prayer, we think of asking God for something. Indeed, the word prayer means the act of asking for something from God. Most of us will agree with a richer definition of prayer than simply asking for things, though.

Louis of Granada.jpgLuis of Granada, a sixteenth-century Christian spiritual writer from Spain, wrote, “Prayer, properly speaking, is a petition which we make to God for the things which pertain to our salvation; but it is also taken in another, broader sense to mean any raising of the heart to God.” He makes a good point. While we often think of prayer as asking, and we most often ask when we pray, prayer is actually any time we converse with God–so we may be thanking him, praising him, pouring out our hearts to him, or even sitting in silence before him.


The apostle Paul, in two letters–Philippians 4:6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17–told us to pray always. Because we do a lot more than think about how much we want things and
need things as we go about our days, Paul must have meant that we should be in constant contact with God about what’s going on in our lives, our minds, and our souls.

While you’re reading this book, we’ll consider this to be our working definition of prayer:

Prayer is the act of conversing with God.

Whenever we’re in conversation with God, we’re at prayer, whether we’re in church reciting the Lord’s Prayer, going around the circle in youth group, driving in our cars, or standing at the top of a black-diamond ski run. We can pray any place or time we’re awake. (And as we will see, God has often spoken to his followers in dreams as well. Maybe the only time some of us are quiet enough to listen to God’s part of the conversation is when we’re asleep!)

If you like this and you’d like to read more, check out my book, Ask Seek Knock. Thanks.

Copyright Tony Jones, 2008. Used by permission of NavPress. www.navpress.com

  • http://eyesofhope.wordpress.com Theresa Seeber

    We are reading Stanley Grenz’ book “Prayer: the cry for the Kingdom” and find it relevant to what you are presenting here. Prayer often falls by the wayside, when it must remain at the forefront. Great post Tony.


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