Prayer is conversation with God. In prayer we talk to God, we listen to God, and we receive the gift of communion with God. In prayer we bring praise, thanksgiving, confession, supplication, and intercession to God.
Prayer is an expression of our gratitude for the grace given to us through Christ. The Heidelberg Catechism calls it “the chief part of the gratitude which God requires of us.”
John Calvin called prayer “the chief exercise of faith” by which we receive God’s benefits. In prayer “our hearts may be fired with a zealous and burning desire to seek, love, and serve (God).” Calvin said we are invited to bring our concerns to God as we are held in God’s “bosom.”
Jesus taught us to engage in private prayer, going into a secret place of communion with our “Abba,” the most intimate term for a loving and loved father in Jesus’ time. A life of prayer is nurtured by spending time in solitude, in communion with God. Through prayer we enter a heartfelt, intimate relationship with God.
But prayer is not a private affair. Even when we are alone in prayer we are part of a community. In communion with God we offer our praise hallowing God and praying that God’s will be done on earth, as Jesus taught in the model prayer he gave his disciples. Then we bring petitions for our needs, physical and spiritual, praying for others, not just ourselves.
The Bible tells us to pray at all times. We are to be attentive to God in every moment. Psalm 16:8 says, “I keep the Lord always before me.” But if we are to do that we need specific times of prayer in which we practice attentiveness to God. John Calvin said those times include “when we arise in the morning, before we begin daily work, when we sit down to a meal, when by God’s blessing we have eaten, when we are getting ready to retire.”
Christians often speak of “praising God,” and the Bible commands all living creatures to praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6). One Hebrew word for “praise” is yadah, meaning “praise, give thanks, or confess.” A second word often translated “praise” in the Old Testament is zamar, “sing praise.” A third word translated “praise” is halal (the root of hallelujah), meaning “to praise, honor, or commend.” All three terms contain the idea of giving thanks and honor to one who is worthy of praise.
Praise is our response to a loving God who is worthy of nothing less.
Have you ever wondered why Christians eat a small piece of bread and drink a sip of wine (or grape juice) in some church services?
You’re not alone.
For thousands of years, the Church has continued a practice called communion, or depending on different church traditions, the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist.
Communion uses bread as a symbol for Jesus’ body and wine as a symbol for His blood. Yes, it sounds strange. But why do Christians talk about eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood? Are we cannibals?
Jesus started the tradition of communion. He instructed His followers to use bread and wine to remember the sacrifice He was going to make when He died for our sins on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Jesus called Himself “the bread of life,” which means that we’re nourished by Him, we survive because of Him, and He satisfies us when everything else leaves us empty (John 6:48-51). There’s a connection between our nearness to Jesus, believing in Him, and being fulfilled by Him (John 6:35).
The early Church celebrated Jesus by taking communion, sometimes every day (Acts 2:42-46). They saw that every time they gathered around a table to eat and drink, it was a chance to recognize Jesus and thank God for all He’s done.
Taking communion doesn’t make you a Christian. It doesn’t save your soul or get you to heaven.
God actually warns us about taking communion without considering what it means and why we’re doing it. The intent is not for us to mindlessly perform a ritual, but to intentionally set aside time to remember what Jesus has done and why He did it (1 Corinthians 11:27-31).
It’s not about the bread and wine; it’s about the body and blood of Jesus.
It’s not about the ritual or the method; it’s about listening to Jesus and doing what He says.
Communion is not an obligation, but a celebration.
Communion celebrates the Gospel: Jesus was broken for us so that we can be fixed by Him.
Celebrating communion marks the story of Jesus, how He gave Himself completely to give us a better life, a new start, and a fresh relationship with God (1 Peter 3:18). It’s not about a ritual to revere, but a person to worship. Jesus is less concerned about the method of celebrating communion and more concerned that we celebrate it.
As often as we remember Jesus, we should celebrate Jesus.
Communion is important because it’s a command to remember. Jesus wants us to remember every time we taste bread and wine, and even when we sit at the tables in our own homes, that He is the one who provides all we need. He gives us the physical food that we need to survive and the spiritual nourishment we need to keep taking next steps with Him.