Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
John Piper relates this story in a sermon, “Devote Yourselves to Prayer”
There is a story about D. L. Moody making a visit to Scotland in the 1800’s and opening one of his talks at a local grade school with the rhetorical question, What is prayer? To his amazement, hundreds of children’s hands went up. So he decided to call on a lad near the front, who promptly stood up and said, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.” This is the answer to question #78 in the Westminster Catechism. To this Moody responded by saying, “Be thankful, son, that you were born in Scotland.”1
Be sure to notice the main thing: “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God.” That is the main meaning of prayer. “With confession of sins” and ” with . . . thankful acknowledgment of his mercies” – these go along with these expressed desires. But the essence of prayer is the expression of our dependence on God through requests.
God Loves to Be Asked
Now think about this for a moment. God’s will is that we, his creatures, ask him for things. And it is not just his will, it is his delight. He loves to be asked for things. Proverbs 15:8 says, “The prayer of the upright is His delight.” He is so eager to hear prayers and respond to them that he says in Isaiah 65:24, “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” In fact, he takes special steps to see to it that he is constantly badgered. I say that reverently and, I think, truly on the basis of Isaiah 62:6-7 – “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” So God loves being asked for things so much that he appoints people to “give him no rest” but to “remind the Lord” and “never [to] keep silent.”
Meditating on this is very encouraging to our faith and hope. This means that God, the Creator of the Universe, who holds our life in his hands and rules the world, is the kind of God who loves to be asked for things.