Prayer is a reflection of the relationship we have with God. It is a wonderful privilege to enter into the presence of God and communicate with Him at any time, any place, and in any situation. Prayer is not only a time of asking for something but a time of worship and spiritual renewal.
Instructed by Christ
Jesus instructed that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). This is repeatedly reinforced in the scripture: “Continue in prayer, and watch” (Colossians 4:2). It is God’s desire to have a close, personal relationship with mankind. A fulfilling relationship takes time and nurturing, and prayer is that avenue by which people can become connected with God. Without communication, there will not be much of a relationship. God wants us to daily walk with Him as did Enoch. Jesus entreated His disciples to abide in Him as a branch is connected to the vine. Prayer is a major source of abiding in Christ, partaking of His nature and bearing spiritual fruit. James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.”
Sincere & Heartfelt Worship
True prayer is more than quoting a memorized script. It is about seeking God diligently from the heart and reaching out to the Savior. “Ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will harken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all of your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Prayer is a time to worship the Lord and exalt His name. It puts the heart and mind in a condition to receive from God and prompts obedience.
The Key to Unlock Doors
The value and power of prayer should never be underestimated, for genuine prayer is the key that unlocks many doors. It is the prayer of the heart that brings salvation to the soul. “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). It is prayer, petitioning God on His throne to divinely intervene in the natural course of things, that brings healing to the sick. “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him…and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (James 5:14-15). Prayer changed things many times in the scripture and continues to do so for God’s people in this generation.
Come Unto Me
In the troubles, stresses, and problems of life, the invitation from God is to come with assurance “unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). It is in heartfelt, vulnerable prayer to the Lord that His grace is poured out to the seeking, needy soul. What peace and grace is often forfeited because people fail to spend time in prayer. Prayer is a place to cast our cares upon the Saviour and find relief (1 Peter 5:6-7). How beautifully Psalm 107:28-30 paints a picture of this reality: “Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.”
Prayer is not just one-way communication; it is that time of quietness in the presence of God where the heart listens to the Spirit in meditation. This place of prayer equips the Christian to face the day with power from God. Even secular studies have shown that prayer reduces stress and anxiety and can promote a more positive outlook.
Prayer is the opportunity to seek God for guidance and wisdom (James 1:5). It is needful to “watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). Prayer is the source of power to overcome the snares and pitfalls of the enemy.
How to Pray
The Bible teaches by precept and by example how to pray. Christians are to pray in the name of Jesus (John 16:23). There is power in the name of Jesus and it should be evoked with reverence and yet with authority. Individuals should seek God in faith, believing that God is a “rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Acceptable prayer is with much humility of mind and spirit (James 4:6) without pride and self-righteousness. Requests should be made to the Lord with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6) and gratefulness. Jesus taught His followers to pray in simplicity without “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7-8). God knows the need before it is even breathed in prayer. Prayers should never be spoken to impress others or for show but rather to connect with God in the Spirit. What a blessing to know that when the words and thoughts do not come because of heaviness of spirit and helplessness before God, the Spirit of the Lord will make “intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).
Whom the Lord Hears
The scriptures clarify in multiple places that God inclines His ear and answers the prayer of people when certain conditions exist. He answers the prayer of the humble and repentant soul (2 Chronicles 7:14). He answers the prayer of those who call on Him in need of deliverance (Joel 2:32). “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). God honors the prayers of the righteous and of those who keep His commandments (1 John 3:22). He is moved on His throne and things change when prayer is in faith (Mark 11:24) and when asked in accordance to His divine will (1 John 5:14-15).
There are also conditions that will hinder the effectiveness of prayer. John 9:31 says, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners,” and Proverbs 15:29 states: “The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” God is sovereign and will not answer every request, especially when people ask amiss for something to consume it upon their lusts (James 4:3). A spirit of unforgiveness (Mark 11:25-26) or self-righteousness (Luke 18:9-14) will also hinder prayer. Marriage problems and a lack of grace in the home will block the power of prayer. “Husbands…giving honor to the wife…that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Topics of Prayer
There are many people and things for which the Bible teaches to pray. After worship and thanksgiving in prayer, it is in order to pray for oneself—for personal spiritual growth and strength, for emotional and temporal needs. Prayer for the family, for others in need, for the unsaved, for enemies, for the saints, for the ministers, for the Lord to send forth laborers, and for nations and rulers are all in keeping with the scripture and the purpose of prayer.
Private & Public Prayer
There are times of private prayer and times of public prayer exemplified in the Bible. Jesus Himself needed that source of strength from the Father and departed to pray alone many times. There are many records of God’s people praying together, interceding as one before the Father for specific needs. There is power in unified prayer and it rises as incense to the throne of God. Private prayer is the time to pour out the most personal needs before God. In public prayer, respect should be given to the listeners in the content and length of the prayer prayed.
When to Pray
Historically, the Jews had two seasons of prayer, morning and night; some added a third season at noon. Daniel prayed three times a day (Daniel 6:10). The New Testament does not command a specific time to pray but teaches to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The child of God should have a continual spirit of prayer. It is also important to set aside specific time to pray and seek the Lord. What could be better than to take time in the morning before facing the day and then again at the close of the day? Spirituality will be cultivated by frequent and regular seasons of prayer and devotion.
Watch & Pray
Prayer is about connection with God and often it is as much or more about changing our mind and spirit than about receiving a temporal answer from God. There is great power and efficacy in prayer. In the words of the apostle Peter, “The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” ■