70 Candles

I have a big birthday coming up in several days, and it’s taken me the better part of the past year to deal with the fact that I am no longer in an age range that can be considered “middle age.”

In an article published on October 14, 2021, titled, What is middle age and what age is officially old?” by Amy Cuevas Schroeder, director of educational content for Unusual Ventures, and founder and CEO of Jumble & Flow (a new lifestyle brand that empowers women to thrive in midlife), she writes:

No one can avoid aging, but aging well and with purpose is something else—our raison d’être at Jumble & Flow. 

But first things first: Who gets to decide when you’re officially old? We’ve all heard that age is just a number—we’ll plus-one that but we’re also open-minded about medical research and data.

Not surprisingly, the answer to this age-old age question seems to be “it depends on who you ask.” A 2017 study by U.S. Trust reports that American millennials defined old starting at age 59. Gen Xers said old age begins at 65, while baby boomers and the silent generation agreed that you’re not really old until you hit age 73.

But that was several years go. According to a 2020 survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by Let’s Get Checked, 57 is commonly thought of as “officially old.”

Looking back, when I was 20 I probably would have agreed with the numbers in both of these studies. I realize this is cliche, but now that I’m in my 40s and 57 isn’t that far off, 57 seems like middle age to me….

Psychology Today defines midlife as “the central period of a person’s life, spanning from approximately age 40 to age 65.”

Britannica (yep, they’re still around) defines middle age like this: “Though the age period that defines middle age is somewhat arbitrary, differing greatly from person to person, it is generally defined as being between the ages of 40 and 60.”

HuffPost reports on a study that says “the average person believes youth ends at 35 and old age begins at 58. Therefore, the years in between—all 23 of them—constitute middle age.” (Quote source here.)

So there you have it…. According to the data above (and how old you happen to be right now), old age can begin anywhere between the ages of 57 at the low end and 73 at the high end. Since I am quickly approaching 70, I prefer the high end. That gives me three more years to bask in the land of “middle age.”

But what does it even matter? If one reaches this age it definitely means you are still alive and kicking, and that is certainly something worth celebrating. Many people have never reached this age, and my own mother was one of them (she died at the age of 54).

During my entire lifetime living here in America, our culture has been obsessed with staying young, looking young, acting young, and catering to the young. For example, look at this statistic:

According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS), the United States claims the highest total number of plastic surgery procedures in the world. There were 4.2 million plastic surgery procedures performed in the most recently survey (in 2016). This accounts for 17.9 percent of all plastic surgeries worldwide. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on November 9, 2018, titled, Why Are We Still Obsessed With Looking Young?” by Danielle Pender, contributor on Refinery29.com, the article opens with two younger women sitting in a café, and they are discussing an older woman they both know. As Pender notes, the comments start off innocuously and turn saltier, such as the fact that she was “pushing 40” and still “trying to get away with it”–(looking and acting younger). Pender states in response:

The thing is, I instantly knew what they meant because I’ve judged older women for doing things I have deemed to be age-inappropriate. We no longer feel the need to slut shame each other or gossip about another woman’s sexual past as a way to keep some kind of moral order, so why do we feel the need to do this about a woman’s age? Where does this policing of older women come from?

You don’t have to look very far to find answers. The skincare regimes we all buy into promise younger, dewier, plumper, more youthful skin. One brand claims their new powder will give you an “ethereal veil of youth”. The buzziest beauty products all promise to deliver a younger-looking you. Anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle serums, creams and elixirs flood the market and our consciousness.

Women over 50 rarely feature in mainstream media and if they do their faces are suspiciously line-free. If a woman does dare to bare her untouched face, she receives a vitriolic backlash. Look at the treatment of Sarah Jessica Parker after she took her 53-year-old face to the Met Gala this year. She was ridiculed and vilified for having the audacity to have (a) worn blue eyeshadow and (b) aged beyond people’s frozen-in-time memory of her as thirtysomething Carrie. (Quote source here.)

Pender later states, “By rejecting or disrespecting older women, we’re rejecting and disrespecting our future selves.” The irony should not be lost on any of us at any age.

My emotions have been mixed as I approach my 70th birthday. I’m well aware of the culture I have been raised in and lived in as a woman throughout my 70 years on this planet of ours. I was happy with the fact that my face remained pretty much wrinkle free throughout my 60’s until I lost 30 pounds back in 2019 and the “padding” in my face that kept those wrinkles hidden was no longer there. I suppose it is a plus that my hair has not turned gray, and it might not as my maternal grandmother, who lived to be 86, died with a full head of brown hair with only a sprinkle of gray hairs running through it.

Can you see in that one paragraph I’ve written above just how much our culture has influenced us as to the terror it can strike in us as we get older and we no longer look “young” or at least “younger” anymore? And it doesn’t help that ageism is alive and well in our culture, too.

In an article published on Barclay Friends on January 12, 2022, titled, Seniors are Alive and Well: Laying the Ageist Myths to Rest (author’s name not mentioned), the article states:

Almost as regretful as the recent death of the beloved entertainer Betty White was the fact that the active, whip-sharp senior was less than a month shy of her 100th birthday, an event she and her fans were excited to celebrate in grand style.

It is also an event that would have been unheard of 100 years ago.

The statistics on life expectancy today are staggering. Consider this:

    • One in four 65-year-olds today will live past the age of 90, and one in ten will live past 95.
    • The life expectancy for men today is 84.3 years; for women, it is 86.6 years.
    • 100 years ago, the average life expectancy was about 50 years old.
    • The number of Americans over the age of 85 is rising faster than any other age group.
    • The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to double by 2060, totaling 98 million.
    • As of this writing, the oldest person alive is 119, a woman named Kane Tanaka who has lived through over a century of history’s momentous events, including the Spanish Flu–the last global pandemic before Covid-19.

Key factors that contribute to increased life expectancy are better health care, improved hygiene, greater emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, adequate nutritious food, better medical care, and reduced child mortality.

Yet, even as people are living significantly longer than ever before, many of the age-old and ageist stereotypes about senior citizens are still alive and kicking. Let’s look at–and bust–some of the most common myths attributed to older age. (We might also look at Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Samuel L. Jackson, Cher, Jimmy Buffet, Jane Fonda, and Robert DeNiro, to name just a few popular icons defying ageist stereotypes.) (Quote source  here.)

The article continues with a section titled, Debunking 10 Myths About Senior Citizens.” I’ve listed the 10 myths below and you can click on this link to read more about each of them.

Myth #1: Seniors can’t learn new skills. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #2: Nothing can be done to reduce the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #3: Most seniors are weak and frail and shouldn’t exercise to avoid injury. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #4: Most seniors are bound for a nursing home. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #5: Seniors are often depressed, grumpy and isolated. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #6: Genetics determine how well you age. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #7: Seniors don’t have sex anymore. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #8: Most seniors have trouble hearing or seeing, or both. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #9: Seniors should give up driving. (Click here to read more.)

Myth #10: All seniors talk about is their ailments. (Click here to read more and for quote source.)

Case in point: I mentioned above that my mother passed away at the age of 54 (from health issues brought on by diabetes); however, my father lived to be 95 (he was a month shy of his 96th birthday when he passed away in 2019), and besides the fact that he did wear hearing aids as he got older, he “blew out of the water” each of those myths listed above. He was healthy, vibrant, mentally alert and sharp as a tack right up until his death. He also drove his own car right up until his last year of life, and he rode motorcycles throughout his life, and he could still fly an airplane in his 90’s (he was a pilot in WW2). He was rarely ever grumpy or depressed, and he lived life to the full.

In one final article for this post, published on November 7, 2019, titled, Our World Wants to Transend Aging. Christians Should Embrace It,” by Jason Thacker, chair of research in technology ethics at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, he writes:

My grandmother was one of the strongest people I ever knew. Growing up, we were almost inseparable. Right before she died, she clenched my hand as I sat with her—and it reminded me of what the Bible says about the glory of growing old:

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isa. 46:4)

It’s tempting in our technologically rich society to treat old age as a burden and nuisance rather than something to be embraced. Many of us dread going gray and not being able to do the things we did when we were younger. We seek to mask or overcome old age with anti-aging remedies and revolutionary medical breakthroughs. Yet as Proverbs 20:29 tells us, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” 

God casts a rich vision for growing old—one Christians should champion in a world that fears, fights, and attempts to hide aging.

Utopian Dreams

Generation after generation has sought to overcome aging with elixirs, medicine, and even by chasing the “fountain of youth.” In contemporary times we chase this elusive “fountain of youth” as we clamor to develop anti-aging solutions and to transcend, with technology, humanity’s natural limits.

Tech titans such as Larry Ellison, Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, as well as prominent futurists such as Yuval Noah Harari, are fascinated with these types of life-extending technologies, which in many ways perpetuate the transhumanist goals of upgrading humanity. Utopian dreams of overcoming aging and death have captured the attention of many, who believe old age is something to be avoided at all costs rather than humbly embraced.

Entire segments of medical technology research focus on anti-aging drugs and treatments. Biotech company “resTORbio has been conducting clinical trials of a drug called RTB101, which seeks to slow the age-related decline of the immune system. While the drug has successfully extended the lifespan of yeast, worms, and mice, it remains unclear if it will work on humans. The drug’s ultimate goal is to prolong our lives by keeping us healthier for longer.

Others deny that living a long life is worth it. Medical ethicist Ezekiel Emmanuel, who served as a chief architect of Obamacare, argues that life after 75 isn’t worth living, because you become more of a drain on society’s resources. He famously promised to refuse all heroic medical interventions, vaccinations, and antibiotics after the age of 75. Without an active and engaged contribution to society, our lives just aren’t worth living. True and fulfilling life, in his disturbingly arbitrary view, ends at 75 years.

But as dystopian as that idea may sound, the underlying utilitarian premise is widespread: your worth is based on what you can contribute. This worldview–increasingly pervasive in our technological society—is one Christians should completely reject. 

A utilitarian basis for the value of human life runs contrary to the vision of dignity found in Scripture—which situates our value on the fact that we are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26–27). This means that even if you have nothing to offer society, you are still infinitely valuable, because God crafted you in his image. He alone determines your value and your days.

Embracing Gray

Even Christians can subtly buy into these utilitarian ideas. Too often we clamor for the same life-extending medical treatments and treat older people as burdens to be managed rather than image-bearers to be cherished. We downplay the elderly’s God-given talents and contributions to church life by preferring to highlight the gifts and preferences of the young. We over-prize youth by elevating untested leaders to prominent positions of authority, rather than seasoned leaders who have been tested and refined (1 Tim. 3:6; 5:22).

But Christians shouldn’t follow the world’s pathetically low view of aging. For Scripture calls us to a radically higher view instead (Lev. 19:32Ps. 71:18). 

Pursuing restorative uses of technology, such as artificial organs and limbs, can be a good thing—a way we promote the sanctity of life in a world ravaged by sin. Medical technologies that fight the effects of aging can express God’s common grace if they are developed and deployed in ways consistent with the biblical paradigm that all life is valuable and ultimately points back to our Creator. But as many evangelical leaders recently proclaimed in a statement of principles on artificial intelligence, we must emphatically deny “that death and disease—effects of the fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ.” 

If we live as if this life is all there is, we will naturally seek to extend it as long as possible. And if we live as if the value of human life is determined by contributions or strength, then we will seek to end it when their perceived worth to others is gone. But if we instead let Scripture guide life, we will see that old age is not something to avoid but rather to embrace, for to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21).

And what is the gain? It’s better than any utopian, transhumanist dream. We will forever enjoy the One who created us and who himself determines our value and dignity. (Quote source here.)

And therein lies the truth about ageing. So as I contemplate turning 70 in a few days, I am reminded that it is God who numbers our days and “locks in” our time here on earth. King David wrote in Psalm 139:16, Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” And Job stated in Job 14:5, A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” 

I’ll end this post with the words of Isaiah from Isaiah 40:31: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary…

They will walk . . .

And not . . .

Be faint . . . .

YouTube Video: “Keep Me In The Moment” by Jeremy Camp:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Gospel Song

When I was out yesterday running a few errands, I heard this great song playing on the Christian radio station (the song was released in 2021), and I’ve heard it before but this time I made a mental note of the title. You can listen to the song on the YouTube link at the bottom of this post (it’s titled Gospel Song by Rhett Walker).

Here are the opening lyrics to the song (from azlyrics.com):

I could listen to my heart
I could listen to the world
I could listen to my problems
But what I think I need to hear
Nice and loud and crystal clear
Is about the One who’s gonna solve them

Isn’t that the truth? Too often we listen to everyone and everything going on around us or inside of us (our own thinking, feelings, emotions) when we just really need to put our focus where it belong–on “the One who’s gonna solve them.” And that would be Jesus.

Another section in the song states:

Let me stop and testify
I was dead and brought to life
By the power of my Savior
But if I’m being real with you
Sometimes I forget it’s true
I could use a reminder

How often in any given day could we use a reminder? I can’t speak for you, but I know enough about myself to know that I need daily reminders. And the song ends with this reminder:

Ain’t nothing like a gospel song
Makes me want to sing it all day long
Something ’bout that amazing grace sound of praise
Makes my troubles not seem so strong
Let me hear a heart set free
Holy Bible to a melody
Turn it up and then play it again, play it again, play it
On and on and on
Ain’t nothing like a gospel song (x2)
Like a gospel song…

A month ago I came across a book at Walmart published in 2019 titled, Everything You Need: 8 Essential Steps to a Life of Confidence in the Promises of God,” by Dr. David Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, CA. In his opening paragraphs in the Prologue to the book, he writes:

People often ask me, “Pastor, what’s going on in the world today? What’s the biggest issue we face? I have many answers, and each contains the same overarching work–pressure.

Family pressure. Time pressure. Financial pressure. Unprecedented pressure to compete and succeed by society’s standards–at work, in school, in our communities, and maybe even in our churches. As Christians, we’re encountering pressures in our society we’ve never faced before. We’re living in unprecedented times, which brings unparalleled tension…. (Quote source and the rest of the prologue is available at this link. The quote source is also found on page IX in the hardcover copy of the book.)

Everything You Need was published in 2019 which was right before the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the entire world starting in March 2020, and it changed the way everyone lives with challenges that are still very much ongoing and not likely to disappear any time soon. It’s a storm unparalleled in it’s reach including worldwide supply chain disruptions and supply shortages taking place today, and adding in Russia’s war in the Ukraine that started in February 2022, we now have the highest rates of inflation since 1981. It brings to mind the story about Jesus calming the storm (one of his many miracles) reported in Matthew 8:23–27, Mark 4:35–41, and Luke 8:22–25. Here is the account from Luke 8:22-25:

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Jesus has the power to calm us during the storms as we are going through them, and the power to stop the storm in it’s tracks if that is what he chooses to do. Either way, the “calming” comes from him and it is not something we can fabricate on our own. When he asked his disciples “Where is your faith?” after he rebuked the wind and the raging waters and the storm subsided, he asks us this very same question in the midst of the storms of life that assail us. We need to turn to him and commit the storm to him, whether it ends right away or whether we have to keep going through it. It is his calm that he extends to us when we turn to him for help. It is that “peace that passes all understanding” that he gives us that Paul describes in Philipians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Back to Dr. David Jeremiah’s book, Everything You Need–the scripture text that the book chapters cover are based on 2 Peter 3-11 which states:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If you read the prologue to Dr. Jeremiah’s book (available at this link), it will give you an idea of the topics you will find in each chapter of the book which covers each of the qualities listed above in 2 Peter 1:3-11. For the purposes of this blog post, the focus is on “perseverance,” which is covered in Chapter 6 titled, “Relentless Determination,” in Dr. Jeremiah’s book. He describes perseverance as “a never-give-up attitude, a commitment to move forward when everything is conspiring to hold you back. No matter what happens, you finish the job… [it’s] the ability to go through a severe time” (quote source is found on page 96 of the hardcover edition of Everything You Need). If you want to read more, you can order the book at this link and at other online bookstores.

Several of Jesus’ parables involve the topic of perseverance, and one of the best known parables on perseverance is found in Luke 18:1-8 titled, “The Parable of the Persistent Widow:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

GotQuestions.org explains the meaning of this parable:

The parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1–8) is part of a series of illustrative lessons Jesus Christ used to teach His disciples about prayer. Luke introduces this lesson as a parable meant to show the disciples “that they should always pray and never give up” (verse 1, NLT).

The parable of the widow and the judge is set in an unnamed town. Over that town presides an unjust judge who has no fear of God and no compassion for the people under his jurisdiction. In the Jewish community, a judge was expected to be impartial, to judge righteously, and to recognize that judgment ultimately belongs to God (Deuteronomy 1:16–17). Thus, the judge in this story is incompetent and unqualified for the job. Justice was not being served.

A needy widow repeatedly comes before the judge to plead her case. According to Jewish law, widows deserve special protection under the justice system (Deuteronomy 10:1824:17–21James 1:27). But this unjust judge ignores her. Nevertheless, she refuses to give up.

Eventually, the judge says to himself, “I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” (Luke 18:4–5, NLT). The widow gets the justice she was seeking. Then Jesus explains His point: if an uncaring, unfit, ungodly judge answers with justice in the end, how much more will a loving and holy Father give what is right to His children?

We do not always get immediate results when we pray. Our definition of swift justice is not the same as the Lord’s definition. The parable of the persistent widow demonstrates that effective prayer requires tenacity and faithfulness. A genuine disciple must learn that prayer never gives up and is based on absolute trust and faith in God. We can fully count on the Lord to answer when, where, and how He chooses. God expects us to keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and praying until the answers come (Matthew 7:7–8). Disciples of Jesus are people of persistent faith.

The parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge is similar to the parable of the persistent neighbor (Luke 11:5–10), another lesson in Jesus’ teachings on prayer. While both parables teach the importance of persistence in prayer, the story of the widow and the judge adds the message of continued faithfulness in prayer.

Jesus presents a final quiz on the matter at the end of the parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge. He asks, “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8, NLT). Just as Paul stresses in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, continual devotion to prayer should be a way of life. The Lord wants to know if He will find any faithful prayer warriors left on the earth when He returns. Will we be among God’s people still praying at Christ’s second coming, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done” (Matthew 6:10)?

Faithful, never-ceasing, persistent prayer is the permanent calling of every true disciple of Christ who is dedicated to living for the Kingdom of God. Like the persistent widow, we are needy, dependent sinners who trust in our gracious, loving, and merciful God alone to supply what we need. (Quote source here.)

Faithful, never-ceasing, persistent prayer…. Let it rise up from us daily in the middle of the storms in life. And as Rhett Walker’s song reminds us–I could listen to my heart, I could listen to the world, I could listen to my problems. But what I think I need to hear nice and loud and crystal clear…

Is about the One . . .

Who’s gonna . . .

Solve them . . . .

YouTube Video: “Gospel Song” by Rhett Walker:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Let Us Pray

Today, May 5, 2022, is the National Day of Prayer here in America. “According to Wikipedia Source, on April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer. We know the National Prayer Committee was formed in the United States in 1972.” (Quote source here.)

The following information is taken from Wikipedia:

The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”. The president is required by law to sign a proclamation each year, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. [Note: The 2022 Presidential Proclamation signed by President Joe Biden is available at this link.]

The modern law formalizing its annual observance was enacted in 1952, although earlier days of fasting and prayer had been established by the Second Continental Congress from 1775 until 1783, and by President John Adams in 1798 and 1799. Thomas Jefferson established a day of prayer and thanksgiving, but this occurred while he served as governor of Virginia.

The constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer was unsuccessfully challenged in court by the Freedom From Religion Foundation after their attempt was unanimously dismissed by a panel of a federal appellate court in April 2011. (Additional information and quote source are available at this link.)

While the National Day of Prayer is a day set aside for united, national prayer for our nation and our communities, praying is something we can do at any time, anywhere, 24/7, and we can even pray silently. So what is prayer? GotQuestions.org provides us with the following information:

The most basic definition of prayer is “talking to God.” Prayer is not meditation or passive reflection; it is direct address to God. It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God.

Prayer can be audible or silent, private or public, formal or informal. All prayer must be offered in faith (James 1:6), in the name of the Lord Jesus (John 16:23), and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). As the “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” puts it, “Christian prayer in its full New Testament meaning is prayer addressed to God as Father, in the name of Christ as Mediator, and through the enabling grace of the indwelling Spirit” (“Prayer” by J. C. Lambert). The wicked have no desire to pray (Psalm 10:4), but the children of God have a natural desire to pray (Luke 11:1).

Prayer is described in the Bible as seeking God’s favor (Exodus 32:11), pouring out one’s soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15), crying out to heaven (2 Chronicles 32:20), drawing near to God (Psalm 73:28, KJV), and kneeling before the Father (Ephesians 3:14).

Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). Worry about nothing; pray about everything.

Everything? Yes, God wants us to talk with Him about everything. How often should we pray? The biblical answer is “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We should keep a running conversation going with God all day long. Some find the ACTS formula of prayer helpful, but there is really no special formula for how to pray in the Bible. We should just do it. We can pray under any and all circumstances. Prayer develops our relationship with God and demonstrates our trust and utter dependence upon Him.

Prayer is the Christian’s way of communicating with God. We pray to praise God and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy His presence and tell Him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. God loves this exchange with His children, just as we love the exchange we have with our children. Fellowship with God is the heart of prayer. Too often we lose sight of how simple prayer is really supposed to be.

When we make petitions to God, we let God know exactly where we stand and what we would like to see happen. In our prayers, we must admit that God is greater than we are and ultimately knows what is best in any given situation (Romans 11:33–36). God is good and asks us to trust Him. In prayer, we say, essentially, “Not my will, but your will be done.” The key to answered prayer is praying according to the will of God and in accordance with His Word. Prayer is not seeking our own will but seeking to align ourselves with the will of God more fully (1 John 5:14–15James 4:3).

The Bible contains many examples of prayer and plenty of exhortations to pray (see Luke 18:1Romans 12:12; and Ephesians 6:18). God’s house is to be a house of prayer (Mark 11:17), and God’s people are to be people of prayer: “Dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love” (Jude 1:20–21).(Quote source here.)

This leads us to the next question, “What is the purpose of prayer?” GotQuestions.org states:

Prayer is an important part of the Christian life. It is the way we communicate with the Lord and praise Him. To understand the purpose of prayer, it is important to first understand what prayer is not. There are many wrong views in the world and culture about prayer, even among Christians, and these should be addressed first. Prayer is not:

• bargaining with God.
• making demands of God.
• only asking God for things.
• a therapeutic, meditation-type exercise.
• bothering God and taking up His time.
• a way to control the Lord.
• a way to show off one’s spirituality before others.

Many people believe that prayer is only about asking God for things. Although supplication is a part of prayer (Philippians 4:6), it is not the sole purpose of prayer. Praying for the needs of ourselves and others is needed and beneficial, but there is so much more to prayer. A. W. Tozer warned, “Prayer among evangelical Christians is always in danger of degenerating into a glorified ‘gold rush’” (“Mornings with Tozer: Daily Devotional Readings,” compiled by Gerald Smith, Moody Publishers, 2008, entry for Feb. 26). But God is not a magical genie who answers our every wish, nor is He a weak God who can be controlled by our prayers.

The best way to learn about the purpose of prayer is studying the example of Jesus during His earthly ministry. Jesus prayed for Himself and for others, and He prayed to commune with the Father. John 17 is a great place to see Jesus’ use of prayer. He not only prays that the Father be glorified but also prays for His disciples and “for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). Submitting to the Father’s will was another aspect to Jesus’ prayer life, highlighted in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). With any request we have, we must submit to God’s will.

In addition to interceding for others, prayer is also a way to strengthen our relationship with God. Jesus set the example, as He prayed to the Father throughout His earthly ministry (Luke 6:12Matthew 14:23). Those in relationships will naturally seek to communicate with each other, and prayer is our communication with God. Other good examples in the Bible of those who spent time in prayer are DavidHezekiahand Paul.

Ultimately, the main purpose of prayer is worship. When we pray to the Lord, recognizing Him for who He is and what He has done, it is an act of worship. There are many examples of prayer being an act of worship in the Bible, including 2 Kings 19:151 Chronicles 17:20Psalm 86:12–13John 12:28, and Romans 11:33–36. How we pray should reflect this purpose; our focus should be on who God is, not on ourselves.

Interestingly, the model of prayer that Jesus gave the disciples in Matthew 6:9–13, known as the Lord’s Prayer, has all these elements. The first part includes praise and worship of God (Matthew 6:9), and then the second part moves on to praying for God’s will to be done (Matthew 6:10). After this, there is supplication for ourselves and others (Matthew 6:11–12), as well as asking for strength to deal with temptation (Matthew 6:13). Jesus modeled this prayer for His disciples, and it shows all the reasons for prayer with the central focus of worship.

Prayer is an important part of the Christian life, and one’s prayer life should be developed. Not only does prayer affect our lives and the lives of others, but it is also a way to communicate with the Lord and grow in our relationship with Him. At the heart of prayer is an act of worship to the Lord. God’s Word places an emphasis on the power and purpose of prayer, and, therefore, it should not be neglected.

Author Warren Wiersbe sums up the purpose of prayer well: “The immediate purpose of prayer is the accomplishing of God’s will on earth; the ultimate purpose of prayer is the eternal glory of God” (from “On Earth as It Is in Heaven: How the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us to Pray More Effectively,” Baker Books, 2010, p. 78). (Quote source here.)

And this leads us to the final question in this post regarding prayer, “What are the different types of prayer?” Again, GotQuestions.org gives us this answer:

The Bible reveals many types of prayers and employs a variety of words to describe the practice. For example, 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” Here, all four of the main Greek words used for prayer are mentioned in one verse.

Here are the main types of prayers in the Bible:

The prayer of faith: James 5:15 says, “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” In this context, prayer is offered in faith for someone who is sick, asking God to heal. When we pray, we are to believe in the power and goodness of God (Mark 9:23).

The prayer of agreement (also known as corporate prayer): After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). Later, after Pentecost, the early church “devoted themselves” to prayer (Acts 2:42). Their example encourages us to pray with others.

The prayer of request (or supplication): We are to take our requests to God. Philippians 4:6 teaches, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Part of winning the spiritual battle is to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).

The prayer of thanksgiving: We see another type of prayer in Philippians 4:6: thanksgiving or thanks to God. “With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Many examples of thanksgiving prayers can be found in the Psalms.

The prayer of worship: The prayer of worship is similar to the prayer of thanksgiving. The difference is that worship focuses on who God is; thanksgiving focuses on what God has done. Church leaders in Antioch prayed in this manner with fasting: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3).

The prayer of consecration: Sometimes, prayer is a time of setting ourselves apart to follow God’s will. Jesus made such a prayer the night before His crucifixion: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’ (Matthew 26:39).

The prayer of intercession: Many times, our prayers include requests for others as we intercede for them. We are told to make intercession “for everyone” in 1 Timothy 2:1. Jesus serves as our example in this area. The whole of John 17 is a prayer of Jesus on behalf of His disciples and all believers.

The prayer of imprecation: Imprecatory prayers are found in the Psalms (e.g., 7, 55, 69). They are used to invoke God’s judgment on the wicked and thereby avenge the righteous. The psalmists use this type of appeal to emphasize the holiness of God and the surety of His judgment. Jesus teaches us to pray for blessing on our enemies, not cursing (Matthew 5:44-48).

The Bible also speaks of praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14-15) and prayers when we are unable to think of adequate words (Romans 8:26-27). In those times, the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us.

Prayer is conversation with God and should be made without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). As we grow in our love for Jesus Christ, we will naturally desire to talk to Him. (Quote source here.)

GotQuestion.org has answers to 119 specific questions on the topic of prayer, and all of those questions and links to the answers are available at this link. It is a great resource for any questions you have regarding prayer. Do check it out.

As we pray for our nation on this National Day of Prayer, let us not forget that God is always available 24/7, any day, anywhere, in any place or any situation or circumstance that we find ourselves in. Our help is only prayer away, so remember the words from Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) that I will end this post with–Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…

Will guard your hearts . . .

And minds . . .

Through Christ Jesus . . . .

YouTube Video: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” sung by Austin Stone Worship:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here