Let’s Talk Prayer

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation. Be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2

The Bible is littered with examples as such, calling us to pray.  Contrary to most cultures and religions in the world, the God of the Bible not only commands us to pray for ourselves and one another, He even asks us to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).  In 1 Thessalonians 5, the apostle Paul goes as far as saying, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  If prayer is such an essential part of the Christian life, then what exactly is prayer and why do we need to pray if God already knows everything and our every desire?

What is prayer?

You might think, well, prayer is simply asking God for things your heart desires.  In a way, yes, it can be.  But there’s much more to prayer than what meets the eye, or shall I say, the ear.  Even though the Bible never explicitly defines what prayer is, it gives plenty of examples of prayers from the patriarchs, the psalmists, the prophets, the apostles, and most importantly of all, Jesus Himself.  Through these examples we know that prayer is not a vaguely spiritual activity, nor is it wishful thinking that maybe the “man upstairs” will hear our feeble cry. Instead, it is us as adopted children, confidently and wholeheartedly crying out to our Heavenly Father, saying, “Abba! Father!”  As Dr. J. Gary Millar, the Principal of Queensland Theological College, writes in The Gospel Coalition, “prayer is the act of asking God to do what He has already promised to do.”

If we, in our prayers, are simply asking God to do what He has already promised to do, the most logical question that follows should be, then why the heck do we need to pray at all?  To fully answer that question, we might need to exhaust quite a few books.  Nonetheless, I shall attempt to unpack this and provide you with three reasons why we should pray.

1. Christianity is a relationship.

One of the most striking things about Christianity is that the Bible does not tell a story of humans striving to work their way to heaven.  Quite the contrary, it’s a story of how we as fallen creatures are truly enemies of God, where we constantly run away from Him and do what’s good in our own eyes.  The almighty God, out of His unsearchable love and grace, reaches down from heaven to offer us salvation.  In fact, He loved us so much that He sent His only Son, Christ Jesus, to die in our place and atone for all of our sins (John 3:16).  We are not praying to a distant God who turns the other way.  We are praying to the God who loves us infinitely more than we can possibly love Him.  And for this very reason, we are to bring all our needs and desires in front of Him and ask Him to be our good Father.

2. Prayer is a spiritual discipline.

The Christian walk, like any other good endeavor in life, requires discipline to bear fruit.  Praying, among worshiping, serving, reading, etc., is an essential spiritual discipline.  When we pray, we remind ourselves of His goodness and faithfulness, we surrender our control to rely on Him, and most importantly of all, we align our desires with what God desires for us.  Through prayers, we learn to possess a child-like faith, completely and solely trusting in God.

3. Prayer has incredible power.

Last but not least, prayer has supernatural power that surpasses our understanding.  This point might be the hardest of the three to demonstrate.  The power of prayer, put simply, comes from the power of God, who hears and answers them.  The effectiveness of our prayer does not depend on how beautiful and long our prayer is, nor how many Bible passages we quoted while we prayed.  It comes from the All-Powerful God who readily and lavishly pours out His love on His children.  Perhaps Charles Spurgeon’s remark on prayer is the most poetic I’ve read, “Not a leaf will fall earlier from the tree, not a star will stray from its course, nor will one drop of water trickle more slowly from its fount – all will go on the same, and yet your prayers will have affected everything.  The prayers of God’s people are but God’s promises breathed out of living hearts, and those promises are the decrees, only put into another form and fashion.”

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  To Him be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.