Growing up in a Christian home, I learned to pray at a very young age. Prayer was an important part of my family’s life. Every meal we took turns thanking God for our food. As the “baby” in the family my first prayers over meal time were memorized prayers like
God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.
But as I started school it was expected that my prayer would become a “real” one prayed from my heart and not my head.
Before we went to bed at night we would all gather in the living room and pray together as a family.
So prayer to me is just a natural part of my life.
Lately, however, I have asked myself “why do I pray?” Is there “magic” in prayer? Does my prayer change God’s mind? If I did not pray for someone, would their need still be met? If someone’s request is answered, is it because I prayed?
Prayer is a mystery. There have been times I believe I prayed and saw immediately a direct answer to that prayer. There have been times I prayed and wondered if God even heard me.
So, since I have no real answers to these questions about prayer, what do I pray? Why do I believe in prayer?
First I pray because of the example Jesus gave us.
- And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
- In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
Even in his greatest moment of anguish He prayed.
- My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it.
Second, I pray before Jesus told us to.
He gave parables about the importance of continuing to ask and not give up. He also gave us specific things to pray about.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
This is one prayer I think the church may have forgotten as we hear such hateful language now directed toward those who disagree with us.
Several times in his teachings he used the phrase “When you pray.”
Not “if” but “when.”
He told us to pray for laborers to share the gospel. He told to pray that we would not yield to temptation. In the Lord’s Prayer He made it clear that praying with unforgiveness toward someone else in our hearts will be a barrier to our prayers being answered.
But perhaps the main reason I pray is that it strengthens my relationship with God. As I pray to God, I am again reminded of my need for Him. I am encouraged to know I can talk to the Almighty and that He cares for me and my needs.
I think of my relationship with my husband. Our closeness would not last long if we never communicated with one another. A good marriage requires good communication.
As I pray I maintain that relationship with God. Recognizing that prayer is for me one of the ways to keep my relationship with God thriving, I know my prayers must be more than just a grocery list of “God, do this and God, do that.”
Again, in my communication with my husband if I only spoke to him when I had a list of chores I wanted him to do, our relationship would not be warming and loving.
My praying to God helps me remember all the blessings I have received and to maintain a grateful heart and attitude.
Finally as I pray for others my heart is opened to their needs and I find myself not just praying for God to help them, but I often find ways that God can use me to be that help to them. It opens my heart to others.
So I pray. I pray with expectancy that I speak to one who is loving and powerful and that although I do not understand it all, prayer matters.