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Prayer is personal acknowledgement of God. In the act of prayer we confess that God alone is God, and that God is our God.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray Jesus responded with ‘This then is how you should pray...’ In the first words of the Lord's Prayer we confess and acknowledge that God is 'our Father in heaven'. This is the God to whom we address our prayer: the God who is both our Father (by virtue of both creation and salvation), and the sovereign Lord who rules over all. We have seen in the two previous thoughts on prayer, 'seeking the Lord' and 'waiting on the Lord', that both of these include acknowledging God as God to the exclusion of all other gods.

When we come to God in prayer we come to him as the only God, the one, true God. Prayer is thus the personal honouring of God as God. Consider a just a few of the many texts in which prayer begins in this way:

2Samuel 22:2ff: ‘The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour ... I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise ...’

1Kings 8:23: ‘O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below ...’

2Kings 19:15: ‘O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth ... ‘

1Chronicles 29:10ff: ‘Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the Kingdom; you are exalted as head over all ...’

2Chronicles 14:11: ‘Asa called to the LORD his God and said, "LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God ... ‘

2Chronicles 20:6ff: ‘O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you ...’

Nehemiah 1:5ff: ‘O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands ... ‘

Nehemiah 9:5ff: ‘Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. You are the LORD God ... ‘

Isaiah 63:14-64:12: ‘... you are our Father ... you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name ... no one has heard, nor ear perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you ...’

Daniel 9:3ff: ‘... I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: O LORD, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands ...’

The God to whom the Bible commands us to pray is not an optional God. He is not one god among many. He is the God who has revealed himself as the only God: the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the one source of both physical and spiritual life, the one Judge, the one Lord, to whom all allegiance is due. Our engagement in prayer to this God is our personal acknowledgement of this God, who alone is God, as our God.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2016