Friday, September 17, 2021

The Greek Words for Prayer

I'm loving this book by Max Lucado. 


In essence, it's a summary of the heart of our prayer lives. Lucado calls it his "Pocket Prayer." It looks like this:


You are good.

I need help.

They need help.

Thank you.

In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Brief but comprehensive! Each of these components is then fleshed out in subsequent chapters. Writes Lucado:

Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. My friend, he wants to talk with you. Even now, as you read these words, he taps at the door. Open it. Welcome him in. Let the conversation begin.

Of course, prayer is an attitude as well as an activity. It is both communion and communication. We see this by examining the Greek words for prayer. Of these, the word proseuche is far and away the most significant. Along with its verb form (proseuchomai), it's found over 100 times in the New Testament. Proseuche involves speaking to God, but it goes further than that. It is as much a Godward attitude on the part of the Christian as it is an act. We might call it an attitude of prayerfulness. Thus Paul can command Christians to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Here the thought is not so much one of continuous conversation with God as it is enjoying fellowship with him. We might say that prayer is ultimately communing with God. It begins with a conscious awareness of his presence in our lives. Little or nothing can be accomplished in our prayer lives without this personal, intimate relationship. I like to think of prayer as just friends being together. Sometimes words are involved, and sometimes they are aren't. 

Three other Greek words also require our attention. First, we have deesis. A deesis is a petition. Then we have aitema. Aitema is the basic New Testament word for "request." Finally we have eucharistia -- the giving of thanks. These words refer not to different kinds of prayer but to different aspects of prayer. Putting them all together, we might say that prayer is communing with God our Father, to whom we come with our petitions and requests, and whom we praise and thank for his goodness and faithfulness to us. 

In his wonderful book The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence writes that some of his closest moments with God were not spent on his knees but by staying in constant communion with him throughout the day. 


Try "practicing the presence" yourself in the midst of your busy life this day. Remember that you can pray in the shower, while jogging, or even while sitting in class bored to death. Whenever the Spirit brings the words of prayer to mind, immediately respond, whether the response is a desperate "I need help!" or a quick "Thank you!" Prayer is nothing more than voicing our dependence on our Father.