We talk a lot about prayer requests in church. We pray for our loved ones, our country, ourselves, and the list goes on. But there is a part of us that knows we are called to make prayer more personal… to use this time to not just ask God for things, but to thank Him for His blessings and to spend time in His presence. Jesus is regularly seen in the Gospels praying and seeking after His Father’s heart. This is why prayer is essential to our faith. It’s our direct line of communication to God.
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- Prayer strengthens our relationship with God.
Communication is vital in any relationship we have. Imagine going for days on end (or months even) without talking to your spouse. I’m fairly certain the relationship would suffer! You can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t talk to!
On that same note, it is important to share your heart with God as you pray. You don’t recite dialogue to your spouse and expect that to be enough to nurture the relationship. Why do we try to do this with God?
The Lord’s Prayer is wonderful (and I’m sure God loves hearing it from us), but it was meant to serve as an example of how to pray. It’s much too easy to recite something and not even think about what you’re reciting. God wants our hearts. He desires to have a relationship with us, and that involves us being willing to open up and communicate with Him.
- Prayer allows us to fully surrender our cares to God.
It’s easy to assume that all of our prayers need to be positive and full of praise. Now we don’t want to be complainers, but I also believe it is important for us to feel free to “vent” our cares to God.
David vented to God frequently throughout the Psalms. He never shied away from telling his Father everything that was on his mind. I can tell you from experience that some of my best encounters with God have been at times when I’ve cried out in desperation. I laid it all out on the line, and I shared with Him my true feelings. I cannot begin to tell you how freeing that is! Something happens when we are willing to say, “God, I have no clue how You are going to work all this out…but here You go!”
- Prayer reminds us of who we are in Christ.
I love how God used so many different relationship analogies in His Word to describe the relationship between Himself and believers. He’s our Father (Romans 8:14-16), our Shepherd (1 Peter 2:24-25), our Groom (Ephesians 5:25-27), our King (Romans 8:16-18), and so much more.
God truly wants to be our everything. A good father comforts his children, meets their basic physical needs, and guides them as they grow. A shepherd looks after his sheep and protects them from harm. A groom loves and honors his bride in all things. And as adopted children of the King of Kings (and co-heirs with Christ), we have an authority that comes only from being a part of a royal family. Truly acknowledging who we are in the family of God greatly affects our prayer lives. We can come to God with confidence that He will hear our prayers and honor them.
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- Prayer changes our perspective on life.
There is no doubt in my mind that God hears us when we pray, but I often wonder how much God needs to hear my prayers versus how much I really need to say them. Prayer changes my heart first and foremost. My whole day turns out much differently when I begin the day with prayer. I can go about my day remembering that I’m not the one in control – God is. What an amazing truth to live by!
When we set our mind on the things of Christ that have eternal value, our perspective on life shifts and our priorities change. Prayer helps us to keep our minds focused on God and His will so that we don’t get distracted by the things of this world.
- Prayer is an open conversation we get to have with our Creator.
God answers our prayers. I know this because prayer was never meant to be one-sided. It’s a dialogue. I once heard a pastor ask his congregation how much time they spent listening when they prayed. The truth is that most of us pray like we are leaving a voice mail rather than engaging in a live conversation. Needless to say, this thought rocked my world (and changed my prayer life!)
God may not always answer our prayers the way we expect, but He is always listening and responding. We need to remember that as our Father, He has our best interest at heart.
Because of the cross, we now have direct access to God through prayer, and that’s something we should never take for granted.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
**Photo by Ben White at ChristianPics.co