How and Why We Need to Pray
Why is it important for Christians to pray? Cathy Sims shares from her personal experience of prayer.
I am often asked, “Since God knows everything, why should we pray?” Do you realize what a privilege it is that the God who created the universe takes the time to listen and talk to you? One reason it is important to pray is because God unleashes the power of His Holy Spirit through our prayers. When you stop and think about it—it is truly amazing that an Almighty God—the God who could have written His Word across the sky or used some other miraculous way to reveal Himself—uses us! He wants to use you to do His will on this earth.
We cannot live a victorious Christian life in our own strength—we must live our lives in the strength of God’s power. We are often so busy doing God’s work that we don’t get around to taking the time to sit still before the Lord so He can give us His direction. In this fast-paced, instant world we live in today—it doesn’t seem sensible to be still. It is easier to stay busy doing things for the Lord, than to take the time to listen to what God wants us to do (or not to do). We would also rather be doing things so we will feel like we are accomplishing something—than to take the time to be still before the Lord in prayer. I don’t know about you, but being still and waiting do not come naturally to me, it is something I have to keep working on!
The most exciting thing in the world is when you are praying and God miraculously gives you the answer. But that is the exception, rather than the norm. Most of the time we either don’t see how God is working through our prayers until later, or we may not see how He used them until we get to Heaven. This is one reason people don’t want to spend time in prayer—because it doesn’t seem to be working. It’s been said that sinners don’t pray because they are afraid God will show up—and Christians don’t pray because they are afraid He won’t.
Sometimes we worry so much about how to pray—that we end up not praying! While the Bible gives us some insights into prayer—there is no real “formula” for prayer. The most important thing to do in prayer is just to do it! We see Jesus’ response when the disciples asked Him how to pray in Mt. 6:9-13:
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'”
Jesus gave this prayer to His disciples as a pattern for how we are to pray. As you read this prayer, you see that we are to begin our prayers by worshiping God, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” When we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” we are totally submitting everything to God and His will—which may be different from what we think we want. We also are to acknowledge our total dependence on God, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Everything that we have comes from God. Sometimes we think that we are providing for our own needs, until we realize that it is God that gives us the knowledge, strength, health and energy to be able to work. This is another reason God wants us to pray is because He wants us to learn to depend on Him—instead of ourselves—to meet our needs.
Sometimes you may feel like you don’t know what to say to the Lord (we all experience those times), but if you humbly come before Him seeking Him, He will do the interceding for you:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26).
When you make the effort to talk with the Lord—you will realize that He has been there all of the time just waiting for you to ask Him for your needs.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).
The most effective prayers are not methodical and rehearsed—they are prayed in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I think that the saddest thing of all will be when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and see everything that we did in our own power burned up. Only the things that we have done for our Lord, His way, through His power will matter for eternity.
God is full of surprises, and He often hasn’t answered my prayers the way I thought He would. But then He doesn’t think like I do.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD” (Is. 55:8).
But the ways that God has answered my prayers have always been better than how I could have worked things out if I were in control. I have never been disappointed in God’s answers to my prayers (for very long). There have been times when I have questioned what God was doing during the difficult times, but then later when I saw how He was working—I was amazed!