by Aubrey Coleman
Our prayer life says a lot about our theology. How we pray reveals our true thoughts and beliefs about God. A.W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Prayer is an overflow from what we believe in our hearts to be true about God.
The way we approach God in prayer says a lot about who we think He is. Even how we reference Him in prayer communicates our posture and positioning toward Him as both a Holy God and approachable Father. How we begin our prayer matters, too. Do we praise and thank God for who He is and what He has done or simply jump to asking for things? Our requests show what we think He is capable of and how much we see our daily need for Him. If we are praying for God’s help, we reveal an understanding of His power and authority. If we are repenting of sin to God in prayer, we recognize Him as the one who made way for forgiveness and righteousness. If we approach Him with our burdens, we acknowledge His capability to carry the weight of them all. Everything we pray about speaks to our fundamental knowledge of God.
Our prayers also show how we view ourselves in relation to God. Do we hesitate or run toward Him in prayer? Do we share the depths of our hearts or curate outwardly pleasing requests? We reveal what we believe we are capable of when we neglect to pray for certain things. We share our desires, hopes, fears, and doubts in our prayers. We learn a lot about ourselves and what we value most when we consider how we pray.
Prayer exposes our hearts. We pray about the things that matter to us (Matthew 6:25-32, Matthew 6:33, Matthew 22:37-40). We pray for the things we care about. Consider your most frequented prayer request and what that tells you about your priorities. Are you praying that God would grow you in godliness or that He would use you as a vessel for making the gospel known to those around you? Or are you simply praying for good health and financial blessing? What are the things that most shape your requests? Our prayer lives speak more of our hearts’ desires than we may have realized.
In the same way, our prayers speak of how we view and care for others. Are we faithfully praying for the needs of others? Are we interceding on their behalf in prayers? Time and time again, the Bible speaks of bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), praying for one another (James 5:16), encouraging one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and helping one another along (Hebrews 10:25). We may be tempted to only think of ourselves and our own needs in prayer, but when we are prayerful for God’s people, we participate in God’s kingdom work. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” God blesses corporate and communal prayer. Not only do we encourage one another by praying for one another, but when we participate in the privilege of praying together, we more clearly see the fruit of God’s faithfulness in the lives of one another.
Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life, which is why Jesus instructs us on how to pray through the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. The structure of Jesus’s prayer provides a rich theology that aligns our prayers with His will. Our prayers expose what we believe to be true about God, ourselves, and others, which is why it’s important to consider what our prayers are saying about what we believe. May we aim for our prayer lives to exude a greater love and reverence for God, a declaration of our great need, and genuine care for the lives of others. May our prayer lives reveal a theology of deep and unbending devotion to God.