It’s easy to get confused about prayer. When I first began to pray as a university student, I started to pray enthusiastically about everything. The idea that God hears my prayers was exciting. I prayed readily but not always discerningly. I didn’t give much thought to God’s will or it’s role in prayer. And so when God didn’t give me what I wanted, I was left confused. Then as I began to study more and learned that God knows what I need before I even ask Him (Matthew 6:8), I started to wonder whether prayer was so important after all. Am I just telling God things He already knows? Then when I learned that God hears prayer that is “according to his will” (1 John 5:14), my prayer life took another hit. How do I know what God’s will is anyway? And if He only answers prayers that are according to His will, is there any point in praying at all? Thankfully, I was never brought to total despair. And chances are you haven’t been either. But without a clear understanding of prayer, it’s easy for our prayer life to lose steam over time. Here are 7 reasons to pray when you find that happening in your life.
- Pray because you’re commanded to. The first reason we pray starts with Jesus – he commands us to pray. I don’t tell my children, “Keep on asking for as many things come to your mind as possible.” I’m quite happy when they’re self-reliant if it means a little more peace and quiet for me. But God is different. He loves for us to need Him. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
- Pray because prayer teaches us to desire different things. Before we pray, we already want many things. As we bring our list before God, our wants begin to change. We start to think, ‘That’s an awfully selfish thing to ask for,’ or, ‘This prayer time is awfully self-absorbed.’ And we start to think about different things that the Bible teaches us to pray for. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus famously taught us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Nobody thinks about blessing their enemies naturally. We only start to think about that in God’s presence as we pray to Him.
- Pray because God glorifies Himself through our prayers. The more time we spend, praying in God’s presence, the more our perspective changes. We start thinking about what God is doing in the world and we become concerned for His purposes and His glory. Prayer opens our eyes to see God when He works and brings glory to Himself. In John 14:13, Jesus showed this connection between prayer and the glory of God, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
- Pray because God works through prayer for your joy. Some prayers God answers, “Yes;” other prayers He answers, “No,” and many prayers He answers, “Not now.” But God works through prayer for our joy. Our spirits are lifted as we pray, as Jesus taught in John 16:24, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
- Pray because that’s how God strengthens you against temptation. Part of the joy in prayer comes from the way God strengthens us in prayer. When we don’t pray, we often feel defeated and frustrated in trying to live the Christian life. Prayer is a weapon of victory against temptation. That’s why in Matthew 26:41 Jesus said, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
- Pray because God gives good gifts to those who pray. God isn’t a genie. He doesn’t promise to give us exactly what we want just because we pray. Left to our own, we’d wish for comfort-filled, stress-free lives of ease and relaxation – not exactly the training needed for disciples who have been given a mission and called to a spiritual battle. But, the fact is that God promises to give good gifts to those who ask Him. Sometimes the gift is just what we asked for. Sometimes it’s something different. But it’s those who ask who receive. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus promised, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
- Pray because that’s how we experience God’s nearness. Prayer is at least as much about the process as it is about the result. The time that we spend with God and the nearness we feel in His presence is at least as powerful as the things we get in response to our prayers. It’s impossible to feel near to God without praying. Psalm 145:18 promises, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
What’s your next step in prayer? Do you pray throughout the quiet moments of your day? Do you pray as you read the Bible? Do you gather with other Christians for prayer? We’d love to have you join us for our Wednesday morning our Wednesday evening prayer meetings. Do you use our prayer guides to pray? Take a step to grow in prayer and enter into the blessings that God promises to those who do.
In awe of Him,