Is Prayer Really Important?
Do I really need to pray often? How important is praying to my Christian walk? What should be included in my prayers? Let’s explore scripture for answers.
Jesus teaches about prayer.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:24-25 NIV).
God forgiving us of our sins, and our forgiving those who sinned against us, are necessary requirements for us to have a right relationship with God. This forgiveness triangle (God, self, others) coupled with faith in God’s promises, opens the door to God hearing and answering our prayers.
How often should we pray?
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16 NIV).
Jesus is our example of how often, and where to pray. We need alone time with God in prayer. Time doing only one thing, praying. No distractions or interruptions. Even if you have young kids at home, find a time you can get alone to pray.
Pray before major decisions.
Jesus spent the night in prayer before selecting the twelve apostles (disciples).
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles (Luke 6:12-13 NIV).
Jesus spent considerable time in prayer before making major decisions. So should we.
Pray when faced with uncertainty/unknown.
Just prior to Jesus’ ascending to Heaven, he promised that they would receive the Holy Spirit. How did these apostles spend their time as they waited for the Holy Spirit?
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying… They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers (Acts 1:12-14 NIV).
When faced with something unknown, they went to the Lord in prayer. This praying was with other people and for a considerable length of time.
Pray for others.
Apostle Paul asks fellow Christians to pray for him and for those he shares the gospel with.
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make know the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19 NIV).
Even when faced with persecution Paul prays for fellow Christians. One example is his prayer recorded in Colossians 1:3, 4 NIV:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.
What else should be included in my prayers and what results should I expect?
An answer to this question can be found in Philippians 4:4-7 NIV:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our salvation earned for us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, received by faith, is eternal (never ends). It is our most precious possession and is our source of lasting peace & joy. Our prayers should express this joy with thanksgiving no matter our circumstances. We are also instructed to present all our present-day cares and concerns with our petitions (requests) to Jesus in prayer.
Apostle Paul’s Priorities
Apostle Paul’s priorities are expressed in Philippians 3:7-9 NIV:
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
The Apostle Paul truly experienced the peace of God even though he was imprisoned and scheduled to be executed. Facing the end of his life, Paul’s confidence is in His relationship with Christ. This confidence was established by living a God-pleasing life that had long been rooted and grounded in prayer. What an example for us as we travel on life’s journey in prayer with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Apostle Paul describes how to live a God pleasing life.
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 NIV).
These instructions include prayer as a part of what is needed for a God pleasing life.
Our closing prayer
Our closing prayer should include thankfulness for the joy of our salvation and other answered prayers. We also need to include others in our prayers: those in sickness and pain, those with other struggles, our church members and leaders, our country and its leaders, and all Christians world-wide. Plus we need to place all of our own cares and concerns on His shoulders asking for direction and guidance. Take some time to do so now.