“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”1 Corrie ten Boom
I find scriptural word studies intriguing. A “word study” is where you study a single word used in Scripture instead of the larger context. It usually means that you check what the actual word was in the original language.
I am by no means a scholar in the Bible’s original languages. In fact, my total experience with Hebrew and Greek was one semester in seminary—for both! But that short amount of study was really just an introduction, and I have not gone any further. So, when I do word studies, I have to rely on the expertise of those who really know those languages.
The other day, I looked up “prayer” in an online concordance and I was surprised at what it said. Yes, I’ve known that prayer in Scripture is not usually (nor often) asking for things, I’ve noticed how Paul separated the concepts of prayer and supplication (Phil. 4:6, NASB), and I’ve known that prayer involves thanks and praise. I’ve also known that prayer is not twisting God’s arm to do what I want (like a cosmic vending machine), but Him changing me according to His will.
Even so, I was rather surprised to find the following description:
4336 proseúxomai (from 4314/prós, “towards, exchange” and 2172/euxomai, “to wish, pray”)—properly, to exchange wishes; pray—literally, to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith (“divine persuasion”). Accordingly, praying (4336/proseúxomai) is closely interconnected with 4102/pístis (“faith”) in the NT.2
So true prayer is an interaction—between myself and God. It is a two-way street—a dialogue, not a monologue. It involves sharing what I think and what I want with God. And He shares with me what He thinks and what He wants (through His Word). And in the interchange with God, my desires are changed to His. That’s why David could say in Ps. 37:4: “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” If I delight in God, if I find all my joy in who He is, then my desires will be His desires, and so, naturally, He will give me what I ask for because I am asking in His will.
As I spend time with God in prayer, He gives me faith—divine persuasion. This word “faith” also has an interesting description:
Faith (4102/pístis) is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. In short, 4102/pístis (“faith”) for the believer is “God’s divine persuasion”—and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will (1 Jn 5:4).3
Faith is not something I have to drum up on my own. Biblically, faith is never self-generated but is always received by believers. Faith, therefore, is always the gift (the work) of God from the moment we are born again. And it is cultivated by a life of prayer.
May we spend time in intercommunication with the Father and learn to walk in the faith He provides. May our faith lead us to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17)—a continual consciousness of walking with God.
1. Corrie ten Boom Quotes, Brainy Quote, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/corrie_ten_boom_135077 (accessed Oct 11, 2020).
2. “4336. Proseuchomai,” HELPS Word-Studies, Bible Hub, https://biblehub.com/greek/4336.htm (accessed Oct 20, 2020).
3. “4102. Pistis,” HELPS Word-studies, Bible Hub, https://biblehub.com/greek/4102.htm (accessed Oct. 20, 2020).