Let me offer you a biblical perspective on prayer -- It is universal. It is as old as humanity and common to every culture. The gods, the names, and the styles might vary, but in ever generation in every culture, there are people who pray.
When God created us, He made us unique among all that He had created. We alone are created in His image. We alone have the potential for a very intimate relationship with Him. That type of relationship is probably best displayed in the Old Testament in God's relationship with Adam before his fall into sin and in the New Testament in the Father's relationship with the Lord Jesus. They walked together, spoke face to face and interacted in ways that no other human being has experienced since. But when sin entered the world, the special relationship was altered and communication with God took on a new dimension. Genesis 4:26 indicates that during the lifetime of Adam's grandson, Enosh, people began to ". . . call upon the Name of the Lord."
Since that time, prayer has become a solace, a balm for broken and bleeding humanity. Culture after culture has practiced the discipline of prayer, seeking to invoke the hope and help of their gods. They call out to what they don't know or really understand because prayer has always been rooted in the nature of the Creator. Non-Christians and Christians pray because of God's nature. He is all-powerful, so we seek His help in situations that are out of our control. We go to Him because He is consistent and constant. He never changes. So we feel that we can trust Him. God is love. So we can count on His acceptance. His nature literally draws us to Him. And His desire is that we approach Him with our needs (Matthew 7:7-8).
IF I have confused you, let me try to clarify. The bottom line is that the basis of prayer is the nature of God and His desire to care for us.
Now there is no way that we can cover every angle on prayer in a lifetime and a half much less in 700 words. So allow me to touch on just a couple of ideas regarding prayer.
Maxie Dunham, who once edited the devotional guide called The Upper Room makes this statement about prayer:
"In an ongoing prayer relationship with God, the demands of holiness and righteousness are always present." Why? Doesn't God accept us as we are? Well, yes He does! BUT!! God Himself is holy and righteous. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament (Leviticus 11:44 & I Peter 1:15-16) stress the importance of God's people being holy. But we cannot become holy and righteous on our own (Isaiah 64:6). we are made righteous by our surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We can never be good enough to approach God on our own. When you see the prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel appearing before God, they fall on their faces and fear for the lives. Peter the apostle, after the miraculous catch of fish, falls on his knees before Jesus and says, "Get away from me for I am a sinful man." John the apostle, in Revelation 1:17, upon seeing the risen & exalted Lord, fell on the ground as though he were dead. Our ONLY access to God the Father is through His Son, the Lord Jesus.
Now that puts us in a position of paradox. A wonderful but difficult position. It is wonderful because we CAN come to God without pretense, just as we are. Difficult because we must then wrestle with God regarding what sins might have infected our lives and what HE wants us to be and do.
Prayer is and must be, first and foremost, submission. In wrestling, two adversaries go at each other until one is pinned or held in a way that causes him to submit. Every time we go to God, we must first deal with whatever sin has wormed its way into our lives. As we confess and repent, the blood of the Lord Jesus makes us acceptable to the Creator. Then comes the expressions of praise and gratitude which can scarcely express how great our God is. But then comes what some call supplication -- requests, asking, talking TO God. That's generally when the wrestling match begins because God oft times wants us to listen more than we speak. Think about it. Even in conversations with a spouse or a child, listening is an act of submission. I will be quiet so that I can hear and comprehend what you are saying. Do you get where I'm going with this??
God loves to hear us call out to Him. It doesn't take much to get His attention. But once we're there in His presence, we need to submit, get into His word, listen for His still small voice and obey what He tells us.
Did you notice that phone at the top is not red? It's not some kind of "hotline to heaven." That's because prayer is not something to be used as a last resort or only in times of emergency. God wants to hear from you . . . often, like daily. He wants your time. Not a rushed 140 character prayer before you rush out the door to face the world. He wants your time, attention, and your submission. Because as He told the people of Israel through Jeremiah: "Call on Me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know know." (Jer. 33:3 NIV) Have you spent time with God today??