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“All the mighty men (and I will add women) have been men (and women) of prayer. They have differed from one another in many things, but in this they have been alike.”

~ R. A. TorreyHow to Pray (1900), 11

“Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer.”

Elisabeth Elliot  

Christian philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal (1623-62) wrote, “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing … ” This article proposes that prayer has its reasons. Why we pray is important, as is prayer itself. What follows are twelve reasons to pray.

1. God’s Word Calls Us to Pray

One key reason to pray is because God has commanded us to pray. If we are to be obedient to His will, then prayer must be part of our life in Him. Where does the Bible call us to prayer? Several passages are relevant:

  • “Pray for those who persecute you” –Matthew 5:44 (NIV) [1]
  • “And when you pray …” –Matthew 6:5
  • “This, then, is how you should pray …” –Matthew 6:9
  • “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Romans 12:12
  • “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” –Ephesians 6:18
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” –Philippians 4:6
  • “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” –Colossians 4:2
  • “Pray continually” -1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …” -1 Timothy 2:1

Prayer is an act of obedience. God calls us to pray and we must respond.

2. Jesus Prayed Regularly

Why did Jesus pray? One reason he prayed was as an example so that we could learn from him. The Gospels are full of references to the prayers of Christ, including these examples:

  • “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” –Matthew 14:23
  • “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.'” –Matthew 26:36
  • “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” –Mark 1:35
  • “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” –Luke 5:16
  • “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” –Luke 6:12
  • “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” –Luke 18:1

3. Prayer is How We Communicate with God

Prayer allows us to worship and praise the Lord. It also allows us to offer confession of our sins, which should lead to our genuine repentance. Moreover, prayer grants us the opportunity to present our requests to God. All of these aspects of prayer involve communication with our Creator. He is personal, cares for us, and wants to commune with us through prayer.

  • ” … if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14
  • Isaiah wrote, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).
  • Hebrews 4:15-16 reads, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Prayer is not just about asking for God’s blessings – though we are welcome to do so – but it is about communication with the living God. Without communication, relationships fall apart. So, too, our relationship with God suffers when we do not communicate with Him.

4. Prayer Allows us to Participate in God’s Works

Does God need our help? No. He is all powerful and in control of everything in His creation. Why do we need to pray? Because prayer is the means God has ordained for some things to happen. Prayer, for instance, helps others know the love of Jesus. Prayer can clear human obstacles out of the way in order for God to work. It is not that God can’t work without our prayers, but that He has established prayer as part of His plan for accomplishing His will in this world.

5. Prayer Gives us Power Over Evil

Can physical strength help us overcome obstacles and challenges in the spiritual realm? No, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). But in prayer even the physically weak can become strong in the spiritual realm. As such, we can call upon God to grant us power over evil.

  • “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” -1 Timothy 4:8
  • “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” – Matthew 26:41

6. Prayer is Always Available

This point is covered separately in another article. But, in short, another reason to pray is because prayer is always available to us. Nothing can keep us from approaching God in prayer except our own choices (Psalm 139:7; Romans 8:38-39).

7. Prayer Keeps us Humble Before God

Humility is a virtue God desires in us (Proverbs 11:2; 22:4; Micah 6:8; Ephesians 4:2; James 4:10). Prayer reminds us that we are not in control, but God is, thus keeping us from pride.

  • “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 18:4

For the rest of the post…

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

~ Martin Luther

Today I have a pleasure to welcome Jared Brock to Flowing Faith as a guest blogger. Jared is the author of A Year of Living Prayerfully, a humorous travel memoir about prayer. He is the cofounder of Hope for the Sold, an abolitionist charity that fights human trafficking one word at a time. Jared is happily married to his best friend, Michelle, whom he first kissed in the seventh grade.

Here’s Jared:

I recently traveled 37,000 miles around the world on a modern-day prayer pilgrimage. I met the Pope, danced with rabbis, visited monks, walked on coals, and revived my prayer life. I discovered a world of prayer traditions across the Judeo-Christian faith family, and dug into the history of our family’s greatest prayer warriors.

Here are ten I discovered along the way.

  1. Francis of Assisi

Francis, the patron saint of ecology, was a nature-loving monk, and his followers have founded dozens of hospitals and universities. He’s one of the few saints revered in all three major branches of Christianity.

I’m inspired by Francis’s boldness in prayer and action – in a time of enormous war and upheaval, Francis traveled to meet the Muslim sultan, in hopes of winning him to Jesus. While he didn’t succeed, he didn’t get executed either. In fact, the sultan so appreciated his boldness that Francis stayed for an entire year.

Takeaway: Where can you practice boldness in your life? Maybe it’s a conversation you’re putting off or a new chapter you’ve been making excuses for not moving forward.. Be bold and start today!

  1. Brother Lawrence

Lawrence was a monk who washed dishes and cooked meals, and tried to pray without ceasing. He became so famous for his habit that someone interviewed him, and published a little book called, The Practice of the Presence of God. The book hasn’t been out of print in over 300 years, with over 20 million copies in English alone.

Lawrence believed it was easy to be close to God in prayer – if you didn’t wander far from Him during the rest of the day. I discovered Lawrence’s home after many months of research, and the impact of his simple prayer philosophy has helped me – and millions of people – to constantly commune with Christ.

Takeaway: Find ways to connect the everyday to the eternal. When you wake up, pray about being alive in Christ. As you shower, ask God to cleanse you from unrighteousness. As you put on your clothes, put on the armor of God. As you walk or drive to work, pray about your spiritual journey.

  1. Teresa of Avila

Teresa is the Doctor of Prayer in the Catholic church – a high honor, especially for a woman born 500 years ago. I visited her simple monastery in Spain, just outside the beautiful walls of Avila.

Teresa believed we are all on a spiritual journey, and there are seven “levels” in the process, ranging from practicing humility to achieving ecstatic spiritual marriage. While the lower levels of prayer – including the humble recognition of God’s work in our life – is very helpful, things got a little crazy towards the end. Teresa was said to levitate. I tend to stick to her first few ideas, trying to see where God is at work in my life.

Takeaway: Think about the times during the day you could focus on God more often. When do you get distracted, and how can you incorporate God into your life in those times?

  1. Benedict of Nursia

This pious monk is considered the father of Western monasticism, and for good reason – he literally wrote the book on it. The Rule of Saint Benedict has served as a guidebook for millions of monastics throughout the centuries, famously summed up by the phrase “Ora et Labora” – pray and work.

The patron saint of monks and spelunkers built a dozen monasteries in his lifetime, but his last one was truly impressive: a hulking hilltop fortress called Monte Cassino. I’ve visited the massive stone fortress where Benedict died, and reflected on the impact of his prayer and work.

Benedict believed that prayer and work aren’t mutually exclusive, and that times of work and prayer can go together. Prayer infuses mission with meaning.

Takeaway: Instead of trying to fix your problems by work alone, start with prayer. Then, as you work, continue to see it as an offering or a constant supplication. Let your work and prayer be one.

  1. John of the Cross

The Christian life is beautiful, but it isn’t easy. In this life we will have trouble. John of the Cross was no exception. His level of devotion was so extreme that another group of monks kidnapped and imprisoned him, bringing him out for regular public floggings. It was during the desperate time that he wrote the epic poem Dark Night of the Soul. He eventually tore the hinges off his cell and escaped, and went on to found a handful of monasteries.

Like John of the Cross, and Mother Teresa many years later, I too struggle with dark nights of the soul. John’s life encourages me to weather those difficult times – to make Christ my rock and anchor in the storms of life.

Takeaway: Make Jesus your firm foundation. Rather than trying to fix or avoid our problems, take time to do the greater work in prayer.

  1. Brother Roger

Roger Schütz was 25 years old when World War II started, and he decided that Switzerland was too safe a place for any Christian to be during a time of war. So he bicycled to France.

One night he stopped in an almost-abandoned hilltop town called Taize, and an elderly woman invited him in for dinner. She asked him to stay in Taize, and he did. As the war progressed, Roger helped Jewish refugees flee from Nazi persecution.

As the years went on, more and more people started to visit Taize – today, almost 100,000 young people visit each year, for prayer and meditation. My wife and I visited Taize, and it was a wonderful experience. We prayed before breakfast, before lunch, and after supper, and each time of prayer started with 8 minutes of silence. Our goal was to “maintain inner silence in all things so as to dwell with Christ.”

Takeaway: Rather than always asking for things during prayer, set aside a moment to simply spend time with Jesus.

  1. John Wesley

Literally tens of millions of people are part of the Christian faith family because of the work of Wesley and his fellow ministers. The tiny preacher had a big mission – he’s famous for declaring that “the whole world is my parish.” I’ve had the opportunity to visit Wesley’s simple house, where I discovered a curious walk-in closet off his bedroom – his prayer room.

For the rest of the post…

oswald chambers quote on prayer

“Much prayer, much power. Little prayer, little power. No prayer, no power.”

~ Quoted in Carol Madison, Prayer That’s Caught and Taught: Mentoring the Next Generation109.

“Fervent prayers produce phenomenal results.”

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

~ C.S. Lewis

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