Recently we participated in a discussion about prayer. This left us wondering what the Bible actually says about it and what the words pray and prayer meant in both the Old and New Testaments.
If you’ve never done a word study that employs the use of the Strong’s Concordance this may be an enlightening moment for you!
For those that don’t know, the Strong’s breaks down most words from the KJV translation into their Hebrew and Greek origins, assigns numbers to them, and then defines them individually.
No doubt, at some point in your Biblical education, you have learned that there were multiple words for love (agape, philia, eros, and storge) as they pertained to the way it was used. Unlike English, which most of our readers speak, other languages are less simplistic. They offer different words that English would lump into one.
That said, pray and prayer, as seen in the Bible don’t necessarily mean what you may have thought. A quick search will define prayer as, “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship” (Oxford Languages). However, most people would simply say, “It’s a conversation with God.” We’re not going to tell you either is incorrect, but we do want to illuminate what we’ve discovered in our own study based on the Strong’s.
Prayer is a wishful begging and worshiping that is undergirded by faith. Or, it is interceding on the behalf of others based on judging what is needed. It invites God to come near so we can utter these things to Him.Tweet
In these times with Him, we are allowed to ask questions, implore action, and request immediacy, but it is best done in humility, bowed before the King.
Halley (Bible Handbook, 1959, p. 475) writes, “It might be, if only we would apply ourselves with enough Patience and Persistence and Perseverance to the practice of Prayer, that we could reach attainments that we do not ordinarily dream are possible. …God…is able to bring into play powers that we know nothing about to supplement and control those that we do know about.”
Ultimately, we found that supplication, worship, and intercession were the three greatest defining words. Of course, that led us to study worship…but we’ll leave that for another time. Here’s a hint though… it doesn’t mean what you think!
So, back to the prayer thing. When Jesus went to the mountain to pray, that word is pronounced pros-yoo-khom-ahee (G4336) and it means supplicate and worship. To supplicate is basically to ask/beg humbly/earnestly. Which leads us back to worship (feel free to study that on your own or wait for us to write about it). But, if Jesus was willing to humbly beg His Father for things, maybe we should start doing the same?