Dear friend, prayer for
Christians is an expression of a living relationship and spiritual
fellowship with God. It is not an obligatory requirement to please God.
So it is not fardh [an obligatory act] that man has to complete. Prayer
is a manifestation of a living relationship with God. It is an outcome
of a love relationship with God.
So prayer is a fruit of love
not fear or obligation. Prayer is a fruit of a meaningful relationship
with God the creator. It is not directed from a slave to his master. It
is words of a son to his loving father. It is from a heart longing to be
in fellowship with God. Christians believe that God is their Father.
They do not mean by this a literal physical sense. The Bible explains it
as "All who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the
right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or husband’s will, but born of God". So our
relationship with God in prayer is based on that fact that he is a
loving Father and we are his children who love him dearly and want to be
close to him.
This fellowship, this prayer,
is not only five time a day. Prayer is an expression or utterance of a
relationship and not just an event that we perform every day. The Bible
confirmed this: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by
prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God."
The Disciples of Christ also did the same: "They all joined together
constantly [regularly] in prayer."
But prayer is an outcome of a
continuous relationship with God all day, all week, all year, all of our
life. We do not need to wash only from the outside to prepare for
prayer, but we need especially to be washed from inside. We need a clean
heart. This means clean from sin. In the book for Psalms [Al-Zabour],
the prophet David prayed: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew
a steadfast spirit within me."
When Christians pray they do
not repeat the same prayers or verses. They may be engaged in a
conversation with God or even sit quietly in a moment of silence. We may
stand or bow or kneel. Here is a prayer by the prophet David:
To you, O LORD, I lift up
my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me
your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my
Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your
great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins
of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember
me, for you are good, O LORD. Good and upright is the LORD; therefore
he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is
right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving
and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the
sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is
great….Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and
afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my
anguish. Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my
In Jesus’ time, people used
prayers to show off how good they were. They wanted to show off their
good deeds to other people. They were boasting that they were religious.
That is why Jesus said the following: "And when you pray, do not be like
the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on
the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth; they have
received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room,
close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your father
who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Another dimension in prayer
is that Christians pray for each other. They pray for those who are ill
and those who are going through difficult times. Praying for each other
is an important bond between Christians.
It is stated in the Bible:
"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him
sing songs of praise. Is anyone of you sick? Pray over him and anoint
him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith
will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up….Therefore
confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may
be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
You have mentioned in your
question that prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim
has the obligation to pray five times a day. Neglect of prayer would
lead to the Muslim’s going to hell. One very significant aspect is that
in Christianity prayer is not part of a system of good deeds. Christians
believe that they are not saved by how much they pray each day. Not all
the prayers in the world will be enough to pay or abolish the sins. The
Bible stated this very clearly: "There is no difference, for all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Only God through his mercy
and grace can help us.