Recently, I came across an item someone in my Facebook timeline shared. The author was thinking about what prayer is. Here is what it said:
Do you pray?
I love this interpretation of a Prayer. What is a prayer? Prayer doesn’t only happen when we kneel or put our hands together and focus and expect things from God. Thinking positive and wishing good for others is a prayer. When you hug a friend. That’s a prayer. When you cook something to nourish family and friends. That’s a prayer. When we send off our near and dear ones say, “Drive safely” or “Be safe”. That’s a prayer. When you are helping someone in need by giving your time and energy. You are praying. Prayer is a vibration. A feeling. A thought. Prayer is the voice of love, friendship, genuine relationships. Prayer is an expression of your silent being. Keep praying always…
The interesting part is that this person is a professed Christian. How can someone who regularly attends a church service where the Word of God is preached arrive at a definition like this one? The modern evangelical church has lost its rigor in teaching pure doctrine to its members. There is often very little structure and precision. I’d suggest that we have failed our people if we neglect to explain such basic concepts as prayer.
However, since the Reformation, there has been a strong tradition of teaching doctrine in the form of catechism: prepared questions and answers that the students were expected to memorize. From a young age, children were taught how to articulate the core tenets of their faith. The catechism explains doctrines of Scripture, sin, justification, sanctification, repentance; it covers the ten commandments, and the Lord’s prayer. This practice is unfortunately foreign to the modern evangelical church.
Why am I bring all this up? Here is Question 98 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, it asks “What is prayer?”. Here is the answer succinct answer which wonderfully summarizes what prayer is according to the Scriptures:
Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.
If you have memorized a catechism, you will have a framework in your mind by which you can assess new ideas coming at your from social media. It can serve as a useful sieve for quickly determining what is pure doctrine, and what is of the world.
And lastly, here is an example of how to catechize your children on the Lord’s day.