Is prayer really all that important?
There’s no shortage of resources debating the effectiveness and purpose of prayer, whether it has current application in Christian life or whether it falls on deaf ears. Some people say prayer should be a conversation and others say it’s a one-sided petition and anything you “hear back” is just a voice in your head.
I’m not here to solve the crisis of prayer necessity, but to share my own personal experience with prayer—which is that the more I do it, the easier it becomes and the closer I feel to God. I’m one of those who has experienced the voice of God when I pray to Him, so much so that it does feel conversational. Moreso than being zapped with revelation, seeing mental pictures or having dreams, I’ve realized that an active prayer life is how God and I communicate most clearly with each other. When I take time to focus on praying without distraction or disruption, my heart and the holy spirit within me are primed to receive instruction, edification and guidance from Him.
To give some anecdotal evidence, I spent an entire month wrestling with a personal problem without lifting it up in prayer. I did a ton of things that normally help in these cases, yet it reaped no value. Finally, at the urging of several friends, I took a morning off from my usual routine and JUST sat in prayer about it. And within an hour, the floodgates opened and I felt the outpouring of God’s provision over the entire situation. 24 hours later, my entire perspective on life and the situation in particular had shifted!
If you’re one who questions whether prayer has any place in the modern Christian life, I invite you to put aside all else and ask what it could hurt to devote yourself to prayer? The very worst that happens is you pour your heart out to God—and maybe you “hear” nothing back. But what if you do? What if a dedicated time of prayer is the last leap you need to cross a hurdle that’s been in your path far too long? What if the key to a stronger, more intimate fellowship with your Creator is the humbleness required of you to prioritize your prayer life?
What if prayer IS all that important? Why not make it a priority and see for yourself?
What is Prayer?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines prayer as “an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought.”
Prayer is one of the most important aspects of Christian living. It’s how we communicate with God and how we petition Him for help. It’s one of the ways we express our gratitude, love, confusion, despair, hope, and grief to our Heavenly Father. Prayer also has a powerful effect on the spiritual climate around us. When people pray against a spiritual attack, illness, or spiritual oppression over someone’s life, this is often called “intercessory prayer,” because prayer also allows us to intercede on the behalf of ourselves and others in situations beyond our mortal control. There are also methods of meditative/contemplative prayer, worshipful prayer, confessional prayer and more!
The Bible tells us to pray often—without ceasing, in fact!—and to pray in different ways: alone and with others, aloud and silently, with words and in the spirit. Prayer is one thing that Christians from all walks of life and from every different denomination can do for one another. We shouldn’t be afraid to intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what, because God always hears our prayers—whether we speak eloquently or not.
What Does the Bible Say About Prayer?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 5:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
How Can I Become More Devoted to Prayer?
Devoting ourselves to prayer is easier or harder in different phases of life. Learning to pray constantly is not something most people become good at overnight, either! This kind of prayer is really more of a “conversation” we hold with God throughout the day, where we bring our petitions, concerns, etc. to Him as they come up. Remember that prayer does not have to sound a certain way, or last a certain length, or include certain “key words” to make it work. God knows you and how YOU speak, and He wants to hear from you just as you are!
Here are some ways to help make prayer a habit:
- Roll it into your daily life. One of the best ways I have found to make intercessory prayer a priority in my day is to follow prayer request hashtags or people who share/retweet prayer needs on social media. As I’m scrolling through Twitter or Instagram at the end of the day, I pause at every prayer request that crosses my feed and throw up a quick prayer for the person or situation in question. I have found that this makes me quicker to default to prayer when issues arise; it has also made me more mindful to pray throughout my day for things. Take a look at the things you do throughout the day and search for how they create opportunities to pray!
- Carve out time from your usual schedule to devote to focused prayer. This means shutting off your phone, turning off your music, putting your book aside, and concentrating on nothing but “the conversation”—i.e. being in the moment with God and Jesus, free from distractions.
- Grab a prayer buddy. Find someone you can pray for and who will pray for you, and make sure you check in with each other throughout the day/week. Pray for each other out loud together when possible, and add their prayer needs to your dedicated prayer time each day.
- Start a prayer board. Whether this is a note on your phone, a corkboard on your wall, a document in your office—whatever method works for you! Have prayer requests written down in one place where you can remember them, then pray through them frequently.
- Join a prayer chain. Many different ministries have an email list you can join where prayer requests are mailed out, and pausing to pray for the requests as soon as they hit your inbox is great training toward making prayer a priority. (Did you know we have a prayer chain? Visit https://www.truthortradition.com/the-prayer-chain to join!)
- End the day with a prayer. Once you’re in bed, the distractions start to fade away. Take some time before bed to thank God for the day, lift up your cares to Him, and release all your burdens into His hands.
Prayer is a habit-forming practice; the more we do it, the more conscious we become to repeat it. Eventually, it becomes second-nature to start praying when something comes to our attention, we become bolder to approach God with our petitions, and we become stronger, more peaceful, and more courageous Christians because of it.
Ask a friend, family member, coworker, etc. what you can pray for in their life. Make a conscious effort to lift the matter in prayer at least three times every day this week.