And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal…call on the name of your gods…and they called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. I Kings 18: 25-26
As a child, I loved playing baseball. Growing up in the Bronx, New York, there were a lot of things that made playing “real” baseball difficult. What we played resembled baseball and had some similarities of baseball, but it was not real baseball. There was no baseball field in our neighborhood. Our field was the city street or the back alley. We couldn’t use a real baseball, so we used a rubber one that had lots of bounce. We didn’t have real bats, so we used sticks or broom handles (It was a good thing we didn’t use a real baseball and bat because we didn’t even have real baseball gloves to catch the ball).
Just as there is a difference between a resemblance to playing baseball in the streets of New York and playing real baseball on a baseball field, so there is a difference between a resemblance to prayer and “real” prayer. Prayers are spoken by people all over the world. These prayers may be accompanied with various forms and rituals, but they go unheard and unanswered.
Real prayer is prayer that is heard by a real God who really answers. Real prayer reaches the throne of God, touches the heart of God, and moves the hand of God.
Real prayer is based, not on form, but on faith; not on wishful thinking, but on truth; not on a “higher power”, but on the true and living God— the God of the Bible, the Creator God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise God—the only One who really hears, and answers the prayers of His children.
It is not our eloquence, frequency, or rituals that qualify us to pray real prayers; neither is it our inarticulacy, inconsistency, or informality that disqualify us.
Real prayer is possible because of the person, the provision, and the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have been given the opportunity and the invitation to pray at any moment, to pray from the heart, to pray with faith, and to pray with the confidence that God hears and answers. Real prayer is spoken in His name, and is heard and answered because of God’s mercy, grace, and love we have received through His Son.
Think of it! In and through Christ, God has perfectly provided for you what you could not provide for yourself. You have been given the confidence (boldness) to freely and openly pray. What gives you this confidence? It is not because of your efforts to be good, but because of the shed blood of Christ. It is the blood of Jesus alone that provides the way of real prayer.
God has also given you the invitation to come into His presence to pray. Yes, the God of the universe—He who is holy, pure, and righteous— invites you, calls you, and welcomes you to come. Because of Jesus, your Advocate and High Priest, you have been given everything you need to come before God’s throne and really pray!
Let us draw near to God, realizing that shame and guilt have been taken away by our great High Priest. Cleansed from a guilty conscience, we hold on to the hope forgiveness brings.—Teacher’s Commentary
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 NKJV