Why We Pray

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood practices in the Christian faith is ‘prayer’. While there are many reasons that we should make a daily practice of prayer, we often misunderstand the purpose of it. What really happens when we pray, and why should we even do it? While there are a multitude of reasons that we should make prayer a discipline in our lives, I want to offer four specific reasons that we should pray.

First, we should pray because we are simply commanded to. There are a multitude of passages in Scripture that let us know that we should be praying as a part of our spiritual lives, not limited to phrases such as “and when you pray…”, “pray in the Spirit…”, “pray for those who persecute you…”, and “this, then, is how you should pray…”, among so many others.  Even without an understand of what prayer does (this will be addressed in another blog this month), we begin as children, listening to the will of our parents without necessarily understanding why we should obey them. It is God’s will that we should pray, and as His spiritual children, it’s not just an option, but a command. Clearly, there is something good that comes out of prayer! But what is it?

For one (and this is the second point), prayer changes things. Consider the words of James 5:16: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” There are moments scattered throughout Scripture where prayer changes the situation when His people have prayed earnestly. Whether it was Hannah who prayed for a son, Hezekiah who prayed to save his people, or even Peter who was released from prison miraculously when the church prayed. Prayer can do the impossible!

Thirdly, prayer changes us. Have you ever considered why we are called to pray for our enemies? Matthew 5:44 literally says that we should ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. One of the most profound things I ever learned about prayer was that we don’t pray for our enemies to change THEIR hearts, but we pray for them because it changes OUR hearts. We become more patient, more kind. We release bitterness, and we heal ourselves, spiritually-speaking, through prayer for our enemies. This is at the essence of what love does in our hearts. We may never change the mind of those we pray for who persecute us, but those prayers aren’t for them – they are for us! When we learn to release our own hatred and resentment, we become more like Christ. Isn’t that the entire point of discipleship anyways? 

Finally, and perhaps the most important reason we pray, is because prayer deepens our relational intimacy with God. Have you ever truly tried to love someone in your life without ever communicating with them? How did that work out for you? Prayer is a native language for us as Christ-followers. And it isn’t just giving our ‘to-do’ list to God – it’s investing in our relationship with Him. Many Christians simply consider prayer a one-way conversation with God, where we give Him every problem and difficulty in our lives and ask Him to miraculously intervene to solve it. While that can (and obviously does, as Scripture indicates) happen, prayer is just as much for us to LISTENto God and allow Him to speak to us by the power of His Spirit. Again, think of it in terms of an earthly relationship… If we go to our spouse or our kids and only ever talk to them without listening to any of their own concerns, the relationship will be completely one-sided. God desires communion with His creation, and prayer is simply a native tool that He gives us to commune with Him, person-to-person and spirit-to-spirit.  

My prayer (no pun intended) for you is that you would deepen your understanding of the power of prayer in your own life, not just to transform situations, but also to be transformed by God as He speaks to you.  

Pastor Dusty