“One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.” (Psalms 27:4 NKJV).
Understanding the purpose of a thing is the only antidote against its abuse or misuse. Prayer is undoubtedly a great privilege bestowed upon mortal men, especially the New Testament believers.
We now have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” (Heb. 10:19-20 NKJV).
A good understanding of God-ordained primary or ultimate purpose of prayer will certainly revolutionize your prayer life.
It is very crucial to understand that there are different kinds of prayer and they serve different functions or purposes. Apostle Paul highlighted four kinds of prayer in the book of First Timothy 2:1, namely Supplications, Prayers, Intercessions and Thanksgiving.
Paul writes, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” (1 Tim. 2:1 NKJV).
Let us consider them briefly.
First, Supplications (in Greek, DEESIS) is to humbly and earnestly ask, entreat, beseech or petition God for a specific thing.
Second, Prayers (in Greek, PROSEUCHE) can be a general term for all types or forms of prayers, but it usually refers to a genuine conversation or communion with God.
Third, Intercessions (in Greek, ENTEUXIS) refers to prayer, supplication or petition on behalf of someone else.
While Jesus Christ is our High Priest, the only great Intercessor or Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5), the New Testament believers as priests unto God are expected to intercede, pray or make supplication for others (1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 1:5-6). It is indeed a great privilege to plead on behalf of others or stand in the gap before God for others.
Fourth, Thanksgiving (in Greek, EUCHARISTIA) is simply an act of worship. It speaks of gratitude, thankfulness or giving thanks to God. Just thanking and praising God is a powerful form of prayer.
Apostle Paul’s list of prayer is certainly not an exhaustive list of various types of prayer mentioned in the Bible, but it is certainly the basic.
Prayer is not intended to be a boring, rigid, mechanical or monotonous religious ritual or exercise. Talking with God your Heavenly Father should be something very lively, exciting and interesting, and something you look forward to.
Prayer becomes dull, boring and tiring when it is simply regarded as or reduced to a spiritual formula for receiving from God, or a time of wrestling or fighting against Satan.
Prayer certainly includes asking, entreating, or making supplication to God for our specific needs. Prayer is an expression of our dependence or reliance on God to meet our needs. Prayer definitely includes seeking God for His miraculous intervention in our lives and situations.
The Lord Jesus taught us to ask our Heavenly Father to “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11 NKJV).
The Scripture also admonishes us to cast all our cares and burdens upon the Lord for He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7, Psa. 55:22).
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (NKJV).
However, if the only or primary reason why you pray is to always petition or entreat God to supply your spiritual, emotional, material or physical needs, you may never grow and mature in your walk with God.
While prayer cannot make you more or less acceptable to God, for you are already perfectly acceptable to God in Christ; however, a daily, deep and dynamic conversation, communion or fellowship with God is crucial to your spiritual growth (Eph. 1:6).
Effective communication is very crucial to every relationship. You cannot know a person intimately without having a personal, deep and consistent communication, interaction, or fellowship with the person.
Similarly, cultivating a personal, deep and consistent communion or fellowship with God is a must for you to know God intimately.
David understood this truth clearly!
4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple (NKJV).
As you spend more time in a personal and deep communion with God, not as a religious routine for the purpose of bombarding or assailing God with all kinds of requests or petitions, but to behold the beauty and glory of God increasingly, you will be transformed increasingly into Christlikeness in your thoughts, mind, will, emotions, actions or character.
This is the ultimate purpose of prayer!
Prayer is intended to ultimately change the believers into Christlikeness in every aspect. God’s ultimate goal, desire, or expectation for all His children is “to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29 NKJV).
The believers are already conformed to Christ in their born-again spirits, but not yet in their souls (mind, will and emotions) and their bodies. Prayer is one of God’s vital means of transforming us into Christlikeness in every aspect of our lives (2 Cor. 3:18).
Beloved, the ultimate purpose of prayer is not to simply change your situations, but primarily to increasingly change you into who God intended you to be (Christlikeness). Why?
Because God’s ultimate purpose or goal for you on earth is for you to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Eph. 4:15 NKJV).
This should be your greatest desire, goal or pursuit in all your prayers. Everything else you desire or pursue in your prayers should be secondary.
It was while the Lord Jesus Christ was praying that He was transfigured!
28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah,
31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. (NKJV).
This also should be your own experience in prayer!
Communion with God in prayer should ultimately change or transform you increasingly into Christlikeness. Anything less than this is missing out on the greatest blessing of prayer, or neglecting the ultimate intended purpose of prayer.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I give You praise for revealing to me today that the ultimate intended purpose of prayer is to transform me increasingly into the image of Christ in every aspect, from glory to glory. Help me Holy Spirit to set and pursue this goal above everything else in my daily prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.