Prayer is a conversation with God. A conversation requires at least two parties engaged in shared thought and expression. Prayer occurs within a context of God speaking to us through his word, history, other people, and his creation.
Prayer is a product of faith. Prayer is predicated on the belief that someone is listening. In Matthew 6.5-8, Jesus condemns two falso approaches to prayer: (1) religious ritual for the show of it, and (2) calling on God out of habit and custom. Prayer must be passionate and come from an active faith that God is the Father who loves his children.
Prayer is an act of humility. We come before God acknowledging that he is the Creator and Sustainer of life. In Matthew 6.9-10, Jesus prays, "Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is done in heaven."
Prayer can be spoken or unspoken. Prayers do not have to be articulated, they can be thought. And, in Romans 8.26, Paul says, "We do not not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Prayer can be private or public. We should have a daily habit of personal prayer. We should pray regularly with our family, friends, and the church.
Prayer can be temporal and unceasing. We pray at isolated moments, but prayer should envelope the whole of our lives. In 1 Thessalonians 5.17, Paul commands, "Pray continually (without ceasing)."
Prayer can be self-centered or focused on others. We should pray for ourselves and for others. Paul's description of Epaphras is beautiful: "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured."
Prayer must be a work in progress. Like our faith, we must grow in prayer. Our understanding and practice of prayer must progress and mature during the course of our lifetime. If we are saying the same prayers at 65 that we said when we were 25, something isn't right.
To the righteous man, prayer is effective. James says, "The prayer of a righteous man is pwoerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops" (Jas 5.16-18).
Prayer is a blessing. The psalmist praises, "I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live" (Ps 116.1-2).