What Is Prayer?

February 1, 2022
By: Derwin Gray

I have been learning about some realities about prayer. In a time of scripture study and prayer, I learned that there is a prayer that God always answers. This prayer is not a magic formula or a mantra. This prayer is what has been commonly called the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13, NKJV).  

9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer is the firm foundation that God builds our lives on the Rock. Prayer is the secret place where we find God waiting for us. Prayer is the door we enter to discover God’s heart of unending grace. Prayer is the home we have always wanted, where we can crawl into our Father’s lap 

A Priceless Gift

Prayer is a priceless gift. Sadly, many of us rarely enjoying the gift. Thus, we miss enjoying Jesus. In the fourth century, St. Augustine, the renowned North African pastor, wrote, “True, whole prayer is nothing but love.” Jesus longs to teach us how to pray so we can be lost in his love. Nearly a thousand years later, Julian of Norwich, prayed, “For we are so preciously loved by God that we cannot even comprehend it. No Created being can ever know how much and how sweetly and tenderly God loves them. It is only with the help of his grace that we’re able to persevere in spiritual contemplation with endless wonder at his high, surpassing, immeasurable love which our Lord in his goodness has for us.”

Prayer is more than just talking to God. Nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer was listening.” The more we immerse ourselves in the sacred scriptures—the Bible—the better our ears attune to the voice of God, who speaks love over us. Prayer is more than just asking God for stuff. Jesus said, God “already knows what we need” (Matthew 6:25–32). So, what then is prayer?  

Prayer is Longing

Prayer is a holy longing to be with God, to experience his love that surpasses understanding, to be embraced by his merciful presence, to lose ourselves in his redeeming purposes so we can find ourselves and our place in his kingdom. Prayer is a sacred journey that guides us into becoming the people we were meant to become. As Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40). Jesus wants to fully train us so we can become like him. God the Son graciously became human, so that, by grace, we become human again. Our humanity was marred in the garden when the first humans sinned, and our humanity was restored in another garden, where Jesus walked out of an empty tomb. Becoming truly human is the grace-guided process of God uniting us to the life of the resurrected Messiah, by the Holy Spirit’s power, as we trust Jesus. And little by little, day by day, year by year, we grow in reflecting the character, ministry, and mission of Jesus. All of life becomes God’s playground to express the love of Jesus through us. Our life of prayer empowers us to become a praise song giving God the glory due his name. 

Excerpted from God, Do You Hear Me? Discover the Prayer God Always Answers,by Dr. Derwin L. Gray (B&H Publishing)



Derwin Gray

Dr. Derwin Gray is co-founder and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational, mission-shaped church near Charlotte, NC. He has been married since 1992 and has two adult children. He played college football at Brigham Young University and went on to play with the 6 seasons in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts (1993-1997) and the Carolina Panthers (1998). Derwin earned a Doctor of Ministry in the ‘New Testament in Context’ at Northern Seminary. He is the author of several books including the national bestseller, The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches About Finding True Happiness and his most recent book, God, Do You Hear Me? Discovering The Prayer Jesus Always Answers. Learn more about Derwin at DerwinL.Gray.com

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4 replies on “What Is Prayer?”

Prayer is more than talking to God. Prayer is supposed to be a two way communication between God and humans. Many people talk to God but they have never heard Him say anything to them. There are many reasons for this, one of which is that they have never had an ear to ear what His Spirit says. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith…” Talking to God less and listening to Him more would be more valuable to mankind. After all, He is God and does know everything already, even the end from the beginning. Praise His Holy name.

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