Imagine a palace. A throne room. Guarded by marble pillars and lined with stern-looking courtiers. The walls are hung with tapestries and rich brocades of dark purple. The ceiling is covered with plated gold that glints and gleams in the sunlight streaming in through stained glass windows. And before you, seated on a great golden throne of red velvet, there he is. The king. And he is not surprised to see you. Boldly, you walk down that endless marble courtroom to the very foot of his throne, and kneel. And without restraint, without fear of his anger or concern for his busyness, you tell him all that is in your heart.
Can you imagine that? Having the liberty to approach a king whenever you wanted and tell him what you thought? Tell him what you were afraid of? And what you worried about? And what you needed? As the people of God, we do have that liberty. And our God is infinitely more understanding than any earthly king could be.
In our Young People’s Society this year at Hope Church, we studied the book of Proverbs. But rather than going through the book chapter by chapter, we looked at specific topics that could be found throughout the book and applied to our lives as young people. One of the topics we discussed was prayer.
We defined prayer in its most basic form as the means by which we communicate with God through Christ. Professor Herman Hanko further defines prayer in his book When You Pray by saying, “Prayer is lovers’ talk, for it is a holy conversation between the living and eternal God and the redeemed child of God in which both speak to each other in the most intimate relationship of love.” With this beautiful definition in mind, we looked at some of the things Proverbs teaches us about prayer.
One important verse we looked at was Proverbs 16:3: “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” The idea of prayer as commitment was an unfamiliar aspect to us, and we talked about what Solomon might mean by using such a word. To commit something can mean to do something, or perform an action. To commit something can also mean to put it under someone’s care or entrust it to someone. The latter definition was obviously the meaning Solomon was intending, and it ties right in with the idea of prayer. When we pray, we commit our thoughts and needs and desires to God. We put them under his care. We entrust them to him. As young people, we recognized the importance of this word because here it has the connotation of safety and security. We pray in complete trust that God will hear us and answer our prayers.
Because the theme of the book of Proverbs is wisdom, we also discussed the importance of praying with wisdom and what this means for us as young people. We noticed that praying with wisdom covers two main areas of prayer: the manner in which we pray, and the content of our prayers. Praying with wisdom means that we approach the throne of God’s grace in reverence. As Professor Hanko points out in When You Pray, “Prayer is not a conversation between equals…Prayer is a conversation between the God of heaven and earth, creator of all, and sinful man. This is a wonder of staggering proportions.” We are allowed to enter the throne room of the King, but we must do so in the consciousness of his perfect holiness.
Praying with wisdom also means that our prayers are not simply self-centered soliloquys of personal preferences and desires. As part of the body of Christ, we pray not just for our own needs, but for the needs of the church. It is only because God has chosen to bless the church that we receive any blessings for ourselves.
We concluded our discussion with talking about how we as young people can pray more wisely. First, we noted that we do not always pray in the proper attitude of reverence. We live in a world of casual communication and self-glorifying attitudes, where respect is optional. Because of these influences, we can easily slip into treating God as a friend, an equal, rather than the King of kings. Often our prayers are rushed or inappropriate, and we do not take the necessary time to humble ourselves before God. If we are to pray more wisely, we must first pray with reverence. We must remember what a great God we serve, and what a privilege it is to enter into his presence.
Second, we agreed that our prayers could be far less self-centered, and more focused on the needs of the body of Christ as a whole. It seems especially easy for us as young people to be self-centered when we pray, not because we do not care about the needs of others, but rather because there are so many things in our own lives that we wish to bring to God. However, one who prays with wisdom will pray unselfishly.
Finally, we acknowledged that we should pray more often, adhering to the well-known verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.” Often our days are long and tiring, going to school all day, working at night, and then getting a little sleep before rising early in the morning to do it all again. At times it can be tempting to just skip praying for a night and just go to bed and go to sleep. But it does not take long before one omission becomes a habit, and soon we are not praying at all. Praying wisely as young people means that we pray often.
Do not let the throne room become an unfamiliar place. Seek fellowship with your King.