The definition of prayer from Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary:
"1. In worship, a solemn address to the Supreme Being, consisting of adoration, or an expression of our sense of God's glorious perfections, confession of our sins, supplication for mercy and forgiveness, intercession for blessings on others, and thanksgiving, or an expression of gratitude to God for his mercies and benefits. A prayer however may consist of a single petition, and it may be extemporaneous, written or printed."
From the Encarta Dictionary on my Microsoft Office today:
"Prayer: 1. A spoken or unspoken address to God, a deity, or a saint. It may express praise, thanksgiving, confession, or a request for something such as help or somebody's well-being."
Wow! Am I the only one who sees a discrepancy in these two definitions or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Maybe the difference between the two definitions is a portrayal of our times. How do I look upon God now? The way I pray could be a good gauge of how I view God. We had a guest speaker at church this morning who said that he thought that a lot of our youth today saw God as a little friend they could put in their pocket and pull out as needed to fulfill a need or help with a problem and then put Him back into their pocket until the next need arose. Interestingly, the speaker also made the comment that the reason the youth see God in this light is because we as parents have fallen down on our responsibility to teach about God's sovereignty and that the youth have seen us treat God as that little friend in our pocket. (See Mark's blog below...) He wasn't actually speaking on prayer but on revival. He was pointing out what is missing in the youth's understanding of God to bring about revival and how most big revivals have begun with youth (Jr. High up to college age). Since God has been working on me with some struggles I've had about prayer lately, what the speaker said caught my attention.
There is one thing that I feel is note worthy here.
As thorough as Noah Webster's definition is, I think he's still missing something simple and basic. As a child I was taught that prayer is simply a conversation with God. For a conversation to be complete it should include both talking and listening on my part. Listening for that still, small voice. God doesn't need to appear to me personified in great natural forces -- though he certainly can do this -- but He may also reveal himself directly, softly, and personally. I need to be listening closely for in that still, small voice God may be trying to quietly, powerfully and passionately communicate with me.