Spiritual Goals Month 4: Prayer

{Thank you to Julie S. for the follow excerpt from her Prayer workbook.  See also the full prayer workbook!}

What is Prayer?

“A solemn and humble approach to Divinity in word or thought usually involving beseeching, petition, confession, praise or thanksgiving.” Webster’s Dictionary

If God already knows our needs, if He knows our thoughts before we think them, if He knows what is good for us, if He already has a plan for us and the world and is working it out, then what is the purpose of prayer?

The following are all the words I could find that were used in relation to prayer in the Old Testament. I found this an interesting exercise because it opened up the idea of prayer for me. It made it seem less like something that had to be said with the right words and the right posture, and more like the result of a relationship: words that came from many different emotions and circumstances, words that were said in many different environments, words that were said because the speaker believed the hearer was listening and would respond, and words that would bring to mind the responsibilities of the pray-er. So that the purpose of prayer is that it is the way that God becomes a living and active part of our lives.

Hebrew words for communing with God:

Asking with different degrees of intensity:

“na” – a general term for “pray” – a particle of incitement and entreaty – used to ask others for something – ask or beseech.
“shaal” – to inquire, request, demand – ask counsel, borrow, request, beg
“chalah” – to be rubbed or worn, hence to be weak, sick, afflicted, to stroke, entreat – besought, made supplication, intreat
“athar” – to burn incense in worship, that is intercede – asking for a removal of a difficulty or help with something – intreat.
“chanan” – to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to favour, bestow – to implore (that is, move to favour by petition) – make supplication, graciously given, gracious, mercy, besought, favour
“hamah” – to make a loud sound, to be in a great commotion or tumult, to rage, war, moan, clamour – cry aloud, troubled (not often used in prayer)
Interceding:
“palal” – to judge, to intercede, pray – pray for others
“tephillah” – intercession, supplication, a hymn – prayer
“paga” – to impinge, by accident or violence or by importunity (bringing together) – made intercession

Worship, Thanksgiving, Praise, Confess:

“todah” – an extension of the hand, avowal, adoration, a choir of worshippers – confession, thanksgiving, thank offerings, praise, sacrifices of praise.
“shachah” – to depress, prostrate – bowed himself, worship, obeisance, reverence – give unto the LORD theglory due unto his name.
“halal” – to be clear, to shine, to make a show, to boast, celebrate – praise, singing.
“zamar” – striking, touching strings, making music
“qarab”, “qreb” – to approach, come near, nigh, bringing and offering – offer
“yadah” – to use (hold out) the hand, physically to throw (a stone or arrow) at or away, to revere or worship (with extended hands) – confess thy name, praise, confess sin, give thanks, thanksgiving

Meditation:

“hagah” – murmur, ponder – meditate on the book ko the Law, on thy work, thy doings.
“siyach” – to ponder, that is converse (with oneself and hence aloud) or utter – pray, talk, complain, commune with my heart, meditate, muse

Seeking of the face of the LORD:

“baqash” – to search out (specifically in worship or prayer), to strive after, seek.
“darash” – to tread or frequent, to follow for pursuit, or search, to seek or ask.

 

EXERCISE: Use the examples of prayer words and come up with your own summary of what prayer involves from a biblical point of view.

PREPARING FOR PRAYER: I think we can take a lesson from Rehoboam, who “…did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 12:14) The word for “prepare” is the word kun in Hebrew, which is the idea of being firmly established, firmly anchored so that it is immovable.  Our hearts need this kind of preparation, and so here is a little exercise to help with this: You can do this in a journal, a notebook, a binder, on a corkboard or just a big piece of paper, or you could use the back of a door, an empty wall, or even your computer or phone if that is what works for you. The idea at this point is just to divide whatever you are using into seven categories: Our Mediator, Praise, Worship, Thanksgiving, Confession, Petition, and Meditation. Make it as pretty as you like. As you go along, you will fill this in with verses, quotations, thoughts, ideals, people and places and whatever inspires you – but at the same time, you want it to keep it fresh and simple, so it may be an idea to either start over every month or so, or somehow change it up regularly.

Prayer Journal Pages

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This is a template to keep track of your goals for prayer this month: Monthly Discipline Journal Page April

 

 

Don’t forget to also print off a monthly attribute page to think through an attribute (or spiritual fruit) that you would like to focus on this month! Month Attribute Focus

 

At the end of the month, you can reflect on your goals and challenges of the month using this monthly reflection page.

For more resources on prayer see:

Prayer Worksheets

Prayer Journal – Review

Workbook for Prayer Study and Journal

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