The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Many years ago at a university in Beijing, I asked a classroom of about 100 Chinese students to raise their hand if they ever prayed. About 70 percent of them raised their hands.
Broadly defining prayer, many people around the world say that they pray. But we need to ask, “To whom or what do they pray?”
When Christians pray, they are not merely launching wishes out to an impersonal cosmos. Christian prayer speaks to the divine Creator of the universe, the one true God who is the Lord of heaven and earth.
And how do we know this God? Though God has revealed himself in his creation, we can know God personally only through his written Word and through prayer. Consequently, prayer and Bible reading cannot be separated. We can’t know God as our Father in heaven, or how to live for him and serve him in his world, unless we are immersed in his Word, listening and meditating and communicating with him about the truth we find there.
So we would be wise to take to heart an old Sunday school song that reminds us, “Read your Bible; pray every day.” Of course this isn’t some magical formula; it’s just sound advice for knowing to whom we pray, how God wants us to pray, and what we should pray for. Praying without God’s Word in our hearts puts us at risk of merely “sending wishes.”
Lord, help us to open our Bibles to see who you are so that we can pray to you in spirit and in truth. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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