The nature of Prayer is not something that is easy to put into words. It is a mystery, but at its heart is the recognition of a Loving Being at the centre of all reality and our response to that overwhelming Fact.
As Christians, we see this Fact as a person, “Our Father”. These are the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer which is basic to Christian worship in every denomination. What follows from our recognition of God as Father may take almost any form: worship and adoration, thanksgiving, praise or a desperate cry for help. It implies a relationship with God which continues throughout the day, consciously or less consciously according to what we may be doing. Then there are times when one is content just to sit in His presence.
At other times one might bring before Him some problem about which one needs His guidance. In the spirit of the Lord’s Prayer we pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done”, so everything is seen in the light of His overarching purposes for the whole of creation. This “big picture” is something our little minds cannot grasp, so we need faith and trust simply to leave our concerns in His hands. When we have a particular wish, or when others ask us to pray for special intentions, we can ask for definite outcomes – health, success, reconciliation within families – or even less important things like a fine day for the school sports. God is interested in our “homeliest needs” as Julian of Norwich says. We know that God is interested, and we know that He loves us because He is Love.
If we do not get what we ask for He will have some better alternative which may become clear to us in the future, but sometimes it takes a lot of faith and humility to accept the fact that God’s plans are infinitely more important than ours. If we can do this we show our love and dependence on God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.