The heart of all prayer is communion with God. That kind of prayer puts God first. It is prayer that honors God, as being on at the beginning, “the object” of our blessing, at the Head. It is prayer that is more about God, than me or you. It exalts God. It values Him. And value is the essence of worship. The very word, worship or worth-ship, is about value. Idolatry is ultimately about things, the things we worshipfully value. And life revolves around what we worshipfully value and, therefore, it should revolve around God. Sadly, He is only one among many, in a pantheon of things we value. The purest form of prayer is that which makes God the beginning and end, the highest of all things. He is first and foremost, central and supreme. We come to Him, not for what we can gain from Him, but because we have seen Him as the pearl of great price, the treasure in the field, the incomprehensible and incomparable God. The best prayer puts God at the beginning “on the receiving end” of our praise and adoration. Prayer at its heart is worship. It involves the deepest expressions of our love for the Creator and Redeemer.
If you will put God at “the beginning of prayer” and bless Him, He will put you on “the other end” and bless you. That is what happened to Abraham in Genesis 18. He entertained God, hosted Him, prepared a meal for Him, probably washed His feet – and in that encounter, Sarah’s womb was opened and a 24 year promise that seemed stalled was fulfilled. Sarah gave birth to a child, and Abraham gave birth to a nation. Communion with God is the basis of your and my right to offer petitions to God, to make requests of Him. “If you abide in me, then you may ask” (John 15:7), Jesus declared. It is the relationship that grants the right of prayer. No relationship – no right! We attempt to exploit the right of prayer and ignore the relationship. When the relationship deteriorates, the right is not easily exercised.
Isaiah declared to Israel, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). John, writing in the New Testament offers the same counsel, “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31). David declared, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears” (Psalm 34:17). Solomon echoed the same principle, “The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).
The nature of our relationship with God is one of righteousness. It is transformational. The essence of praying “in the name of Jesus” is the privilege of using the relationship that we now have with him to approach heaven in prayer. But to use the name of Jesus, and not feverishly honor the sanctity of that name by living in a way that brings honor to the divine and holy Father, is the essence of hypocrisy. The relationship grants the right and yet we dare not attempt to maintain the relationship to only retain the benefits. The relationship is not a mere means to something else. The relationship is the main thing.
Putting God on the receiving end of the blessing, God at the beginning of our attentions, at the head, and thereby making prayer less about acquisition and more about adoration, this is the first call of prayer. And then, God does bless. He breaks the barrenness. He whispers secrets, and He blesses our generations.
This blog is an excerpt from a re-release of a popular title, Intercession: The Uncomfortable, Strategic Middle.
P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.
 P. Douglas Small, Entertaining God and Influencing Cities (Kannapolis, NC: Alive Publications, 2008).