Prayer today has taken on a great variety of forms. Some maintain a formality in prayer that trusts in proper grammar and outdated English to convey basic thoughts. Others view prayer as a casual conversation between a Father and child. However, both of these offer a rather shallow view of prayer. While there are most certainly doctrinal aspects of prayer—to whom should we pray, for what should we pray, how should we pray—we must never lose sight of the marvelous nature of prayer in the first place. David recognized this when he opened Psalm 25 with this simple but profound thought: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (Psa. 25:1). Prayer provides us the opportunity to reach down into the depths of our being and then lift up our souls to our God who is spirit (John 4:24). Meditation on the nature of God alone should cause us to realize that mere words uttered in the right setting are insufficient to reach the holy of holies. But likewise, the consideration of reaching out to the very spirit of the Holy God should make us realize that there is nothing casual about this opportunity. To the contrary, prayer offers us a unique opportunity to bow before the footstool of heaven and pour out our soul to the Creator and Redeemer of mankind, and that is exactly how we should approach it.
When we pray, following David, we should lift up our soul in faith, saying with conviction, “O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me” (Psa. 25:2). Confident assurance should take us to the Lord in prayer, and confident assurance should be the hallmark of our prayer (Psa. 25:3). We should lift up our soul in thankfulness for the opportunities God has given us, with an eagerness to apply each and every thing He teaches us to do and a heart fully aware of the tender mercies and love that made forgiveness possible (Psa. 25:4-7). We should lift up our soul in humility, acknowledging the chasm that exists between the Lord’s character and our own and therefore submitting to His way, His covenant, and His authority, knowing that it is His greatness rather than our own that makes fellowship possible because our sin is indeed an obstacle too great for us to overcome without His mercy (Psa. 25:8-11). Therefore, lift up your soul to God in reverence and awe. Respect His authority, seek His favor, and never cease to be amazed at the blessings He bestows (Psa. 25:12-15). When you bow in prayer, lift up your soul in seeking forgiveness. Do not simply ask for forgiveness as part of your routine. Feel your sin deeply and then turn to God with a heart bowed down in sorrow (Psa. 25:16-18). In times of trouble, lift up your soul to God. Whatever the turmoil, whatever the care—no matter how great the problem or how terrific the struggle—the Lord is there for you (Psa. 25:19-22).
We need to pray because we need the Lord. However, we need far more than prayer in our lives as a routine or prayer in the assembly as a rule; we need prayer in our hearts as a must. Prayer offers us the opportunity to enter the throne room of God only through the Mediation of Jesus Christ. It is a privilege—not a right. And it deserves all our heart and soul.