This subject came up in a class I was teaching at my church last night and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’m convinced that, given the right incentive, everyone prays. You could put the staunchest of atheists in a foxhole and they will call out for help once the bullets start whizzing. The Bible says that God has set eternity in the hearts of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We all know there’s something, we just don’t always know what that Something is. So when the chips are down, we have a tendency to pray … even if we’re not Christians.
So I asked this question, “What makes the prayers of a Christian different?”
The most striking characteristic of a Christian’s prayers is the One to whom we pray to. We are praying to the God that has been revealed to us in the pages of Scripture. He is a God that we can know. When a non-believer prays, it’s like throwing stuff at a wall to see what sticks. Because their prayers aren’t specifically addressed to our Living God, they aren’t heard. A Christian’s prayers are voiced to a specific, living God that has made Himself known to us. Scripture says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). In fact, it is through Jesus that we are allowed access into God’s presence. God is holy, and mankind isn’t (Romans 3:23). Christ accepted our fate on the cross (Romans 6:23) … we deserved death and He took our punishment. It was that sacrifice that tore the veil between sinful man and a Holy God (Matthew 27:50-51). Adam and Eve were expelled from God’s presence because of their sin (Genesis 3:23) and Christ’s sacrifice on cross allows us to step back into His presence.
When a Christian falls on bended knee, they are in the presence of God Almighty. And that makes their prayers different from those of the unbeliever.
Scripture commands the believer to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). An ongoing conversation with God, along with a familiarity with His Word, allows a believer to discern His Will through prayer. So our prayers become less about us and more about Him. When we approach God in prayer we are to ask for His will to be done with confidence (Matthew 6:10), because His will is always what’s best our lives.
The prayers of a believer are sincere, earnest, specific, obedient and unselfish. These characteristics should set the believer’s prayers apart from the prayers of a non-believer. A Christian can approach God in prayer through faith … and that makes all the difference. Hebrews 11:6 seems an appropriate place to end this post:
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Thank you Jesus for allowing my prayers to be heard.