Summary: Prayer is a conversation with God in His physical absence. We should ALWAYS TRUST God with our lives. The outcome of our prayer should NOT be based on our expectations and needs but on GOD'S will, immaterial of whether it is what we want.
James 5:17-18 (ESV)
"Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit."
To answer the question “What IS prayer?” we need to start RIGHT at the beginning of man’s relationship with God. It’s of great importance to understand that prayer has NOT been around in the earlier stages of creation. In fact, it’s a byproduct of disobedience to God, which led to man’s physical isolation from his Creator: “Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God.
That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers or let you see his face: “ (Isaiah 59:2(CEV).
Man was created by God to be obedient to God, to serve Him in spirit and in truth and to communicate with Him. During the earlier years of creation our Creator had a “one-on-one” relationship with the first man and woman He created. In other words God appeared to them in a physical form when He communicated with them. Much the same as humans do. (Genesis 3:8) I speculate ONE of the reasons WHY God COULD communicate THIS way with them, was because they were holy, blameless and spiritually pure. After all, they WERE created in HIS holy AND perfect image. However AFTER they disobeyed God’s instruction NOT to eat of the tree of “knowledge of good and evil,” sin entered the world and this “one-on-one” relationship with their Creator was lost forever. Eventually man drifted from God as his wickedness and sin escalated and erected a wall between him and God (Isaiah 59:2). In fact, he became estranged from his Creator.
Nevertheless the primary objective of man to worship and to seek God’s presence, were NOT erased by sin. It merely became dormant, BUT remained a function of his spiritual genepool. Although man was separated from his Creator by sin, there were STILL a few men during random periods of the Old Testament who LOVED God and worshipped Him in spirit and in truth. SUCH men were Enoch, Abraham and Moses. God favoured them by choosing to enter into a “0ne-on-one” relationship with them, as He had with their predecessors, Adam and Eve. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent (Exodus 33:11). Now the LORD appeared to him (Abraham) by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day and he (Abraham) said, "My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by (Genesis 18:1 and 3). ‘And the Lord with His own mouth called to me, “Be brave Enoch! Don’t be frightened! Stand up in front of my face forever.” (2 Enoch 22:5-Jewish text). Of course God ALSO had a direct relationship with Noah, but NOT as in a “face-to-face” relationship. God only SPOKE to Noah who NEVER saw His face. AFTER this period God NEVER again had “one-on-one” contact with man, and communicated with them through the prophets who became His mouthpiece.
As is evident in the Old Testament man’s need to communicate with God for VARIOUS reasons, remained active. A few examples of the latter is Seth (Adam’s son who replaced Abel) who called upon the name of God, at a period when man had NO contact with God…they were COMPLETELY lost and separated from God. Our Creator was NOLONGER available to respond to them in a “face-to-face” relationship, but THOSE who loved Him and did HIS will, were enabled by faith to communicate with Him. EVEN though they could NOT see Him any longer, they BELIEVED that God WAS in their presence when they called upon His name. THIS act of faith PLEASED God and He responded favorably to their needs. There were ALSO Hannah who was unable to bear a child. She prayed that God would give her a son (1 Samuel 1:1–20). The Lord answered her prayer, and she gave birth to a son, Samuel, who became one of Israel's GREATEST prophets. ANOTHER example was Samson. In spite of his previous disobedience to the Lord, Samson prayed, and God returned Samson's strength (Judges 16:28–30) so that he could destroy Israel’s enemies. God forgave Samson BECAUSE he repented of his sins. Last but NOT least, there was Elijah. This Old Testament prophet prayed and the rain stopped. He prayed again, and the rain returned. Another time he prayed, and fire came down from heaven (James 5:17–18; 1 Kings 18:36–38).
THIS type of communication with God where He is physically absent, but spiritually present, is called prayer. A face-to-face conversation with God for that matter would most DEFINITELY not be called a prayer. Ironically enough prayer is a byproduct of disobedience. If man did NOT eat from the fruit he was forbidden to eat, we would STILL have communicated with God in a face-to-face relationship….like people do with each other.