R. Joseph Owles
A Sheep Among Wolves
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There are many complicated definitions of exactly what prayer is, but the most simple understanding is that prayer is a conversation with God. Traditionally, Christian thinkers have categorized five basic types of conversations that most people have with God.

1. ADORATION--this type of conversation celebrates who God is regardless of anything that God may have done. The simple fact that God exists is an occasion of profound joy and celebration.

2. CONFESSION--when we talk to God in this manner, we acknowledge that we haven't been the people that we are capable of being. Quite simply, we miss the mark and we know it. So we talk to God and admit the kind of people we have been, express our hope that God won�t hold that against us, and ask God for the courage and strength to change, becoming more like the people God wants us to be.

3. PETITION--our conversations with God in this manner usually involve expressing our needs and desires to God and asking for God to give us what we ask for.

4. INTERCESSION--this type of conversation revolves around a request that God act on behalf of another person. It is similar to a prayer of petition. The difference is that we are not asking for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others.

5. THANKSGIVING--when we talk to God in this manner, we express our gratitude for what God has done for us in the past, and we thank God in advance for what God is doing for us in the present and will do for us in the future.


Prayer is important because in order to do it, human beings have to acknowledge their own limitations. When we pray, we declare that there is a source of life and power that is greater than ourselves. We are thankful that power exists. We ask that power for guidance and assistance for ourselves and for others. We admit things to that power that we may have difficulty admitting to other people. In short, PRAYER IS AN ACT OF HUMILITY! When we pray, we admit to God and to others that we have limited resources and that we have a hard time living our lives on our own terms without help.

One of the great ironies of life is that most of the problems we face are of our own making; and yet, when we try to resolve those problems, we find that they have grown beyond our ability to deal with them.


The simple answer is that you DON'T HAVE TO PRAY. You can try to live your life without it and you may make out just fine. A man who is in love with a woman DOESN'T HAVE TO call her; he DOESN'T HAVE TO spend time with her; he DOESN'T HAVE TO think about her; he simply does, mostly because he can't help doing so. GOD IS CRAZY IN LOVE WITH YOU AND GOD IS HOPING THAT YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM AS WELL!!! The more you grow in your relationship with God, the more you will find yourself praying to God.

But I've evaded the question, why pray if God knows everything I want and need?

The first answer is that God likes me to be humble and prayer is an act of humility. Humility is not an exercise in self-denigration. I don't have to put myself down to show that I'm humble. Humility is simply an honest evaluation of what I can and cannot do. Humility is also the ability of being other-centered rather than self-centered. Humility is not thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less!

The second answer is that nobody likes to be taken for granted, not even God. Just because God is God doesn't mean that God's feelings don't get hurt from time to time. We pray to God because even God likes to be asked.


Simply put, you should pray from the heart. Be sincere and honest. Other than that, there is no required method or format. Christians often rely on formal prayers, such as the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary, but these are not meant to be substitutes for personal prayer. Formal prayers deal with common issues that all people face or are prayers that are efficacious for all Christians. Informal prayer allows you to customize prayers to the specific issues of your life. Many people rely on formal prayers outside of worship because they don't yet feel comfortable praying from their own heart and because previously written prayers are written with a beauty that we would like to articulate, but are unable to do so on our own. All this to say that however you talk to God is just fine.

As in conversations with people, don't do all the talking. If it is a true conversation, take time to listen. If you are doing all the talking, you are not having a conversation. You are giving a speech, a lecture, or you are preaching. STOP AND LISTEN--YOU'LL BE AMAZED WHAT YOU HEAR!


When shouldn't you? If you're having a relationship with God then God needs to be a part of that relationship.
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