Besides the some one dozen words rendered prayer in the OT, another that clearly pictures prayer in a few instances is the verb qārā’ (H7121), the root of which (qr’) is found in “Old Aramaic, Canaanite, and Ugaritic, and other Semitic languages (except Ethiopic).”
Appearing more than 730 times, qārā’ has a wide range of meanings, depending upon the context and grammar, including: “to call, declare, summon, invite, read, be called, be invoked, be named.” It is used, for example, of summoning someone, as when God “called unto Adam” (Gen_3:9), when God “called unto [Moses] out of the midst of the bush” (Exo_3:4), and for Adam naming the animals (Gen_2:20) and Eve (Gen_3:20). It is also used of reading aloud from a book or scroll (Exo_24:7; Neh_13:1; Jer_36:6; Jer_36:8). It is even used for the act of preaching (Neh_6:7; Jon_3:2, March 16).
Another significant use of qārā’ is in men calling upon God, a use we see often and that graphically illustrates prayer. After the fall, some men realized the all-encompassing consequences of sin and began to call on God’s name (Gen_4:26; Gen_12:8; Gen_13:4). We are especially struck by verses such as Psa_3:4 : “I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.” Also, Psa_18:6 : “In my distress I called [qārā’] upon the LORD, and cried [qārā’] unto my God.” Such statements, in fact, are a recurring theme in the Psalms (Psa_18:6; Psa_30:8; Psa_34:6; Psa_120:1; Psa_130:1; Psa_138:3).
Psa_119:145 is particularly striking: “I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.” Think of it! The psalmist’s entire being was engaged in prayer. He had written in Psa_119:10, “With my whole heart have I sought thee.” We then read in Psa_119:146 : “I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.” Here is true, earnest prayer. And what is the goal of such earnestness? In modern teaching, the goal is ourselves, getting what we want. The psalmist’s goal was a little different, to say the least. His aim was to “keep [God’s statutes [February 19] and] testimonies [February 17].” Let us pray earnestly to that end.
Scriptures for Study: What is the admonition of Psa_116:2? What then is the promise of Psa_145:18?