Prayer is an active memory recital toward the living God. In prayer, we remember both needy people and God’s revealed promises. We boldly request that God would act for the people in accord with the promises.
Paul focuses on memory in prayer in Romans 1.9. When Paul said he prays, “without ceasing I mention you”, the word “mention” is the Greek word is mneian. It is a word for ‘remembering’. It is also in the first chapter of most of his letters (Phil 1.3, Eph 1.16, 1 Thess 1.2, Philemon 1.4, 2 Tim 1.3). If we want to pray like Paul, we need to have the same focus. We need to remember.
Why is this important? Why is ‘memory’ and our prayerful ‘mentioning as remembering’ important? Because it keeps our prayers from being merely speculations. We are not imagining whatever we want. We are not ‘dreaming’. We are remembering and reciting.
There are two aspects to prayer where our remembering comes in:
Remembering God’s Word. This means that the Scriptures, and God’s revealed will in the Bible is what should shape our prayers.
Remembering Others. This means that we actively recall people and situations. We remember people who are close to us and those far away. We remember them: from missionaries to mother-in-laws.
This is not “listening prayer” as certain modern supposedly evangelical mystics say. We are not imaginatively speculating about what God would say to us, and acting like God actually said what we have speculated. This is extremely dangerous, but it is becoming a more mainstream practice among evangelicals.
Rather prayer is remembering what has already been revealed and requesting the living God to act based upon that prior revelation. Remembered Revelation is the Root of Prayer.