Christian philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal (1623-62) wrote, “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing … ” This article proposes that prayer has its reasons. Why we pray is important, as is prayer itself. What follows are twelve reasons to pray.
1. God’s Word Calls Us to Pray
One key reason to pray is because God has commanded us to pray. If we are to be obedient to His will, then prayer must be part of our life in Him. Where does the Bible call us to prayer? Several passages are relevant:
- “Pray for those who persecute you” -Matthew 5:44
- “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” -Matthew 6:5
- “This, then, is how you should pray …” After this manner, therefore, pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. -Matthew 6:9
- “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12:12
- “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” -Ephesians 6:18
- “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” -Philippians 4:6
- “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” -Colossians 4:2
- “ Pray without ceasing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:17
- “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” -1 Timothy 2:1
Prayer is an act of obedience. God calls us to pray and we must respond.
2. Jesus Prayed Regularly
Why did Jesus pray? One reason he prayed was as an example so that we could learn from him. The Gospels are full of references to the prayers of Christ, including these examples:
- “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” -Matthew 14:23
- “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.” -Matthew 26:36
- “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” -Mark 1:35
- “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” -Luke 5:16
- “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” -Luke 6:12
- “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” -Luke 18:1
3. Prayer is How We Communicate with God
Prayer allows us to worship and praise the Lord. It also allows us to offer confession of our sins, which should lead to our genuine repentance. Moreover, prayer grants us the opportunity to present our requests to God. All of these aspects of prayer involve communication with our Creator. He is personal, cares for us, and wants to commune with us through prayer.
- ”If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14
- Isaiah wrote, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31).
- Hebrews 4:15-16 reads, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Prayer is not just about asking for God’s blessings – though we are welcome to do so – but it is about communication with the living God. Without communication, relationships fall apart. So, too, our relationship with God suffers when we do not communicate with Him.
4. Prayer Allows us to Participate in God’s Works
Does God need our help? No. He is all powerful and in control of everything in His creation. Why do we need to pray? Because prayer is the means God has ordained for some things to happen. Prayer, for instance, helps others know the love of Jesus. Prayer can clear human obstacles out of the way in order for God to work. It is not that God can’t work without our prayers, but that He has established prayer as part of His plan for accomplishing His will in this world.
5. Prayer Gives us Power Over Evil
Can physical strength help us overcome obstacles and challenges in the spiritual realm? No, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12). But in prayer, even the physically weak can become strong in the spiritual realm. As such, we can call upon God to grant us power over evil.
- “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” -1 Timothy 4:8
- “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
6. Prayer is Always Available
This point is covered separately in another article. But, in short, another reason to pray is because prayer is always available to us. Nothing can keep us from approaching God in prayer except our own choices (Psalm 139:7; Romans 8:38-39).
7. Prayer Keeps us Humble Before God
Humility is a virtue God desires in us (Proverbs 11:2; 22:4; Micah 6:8; Ephesians 4:2; James 4:10). Prayer reminds us that we are not in control, but God is, thus keeping us from pride.
- “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 18:4
8. Prayer Grants us the Privilege of Experiencing God
Through prayer, we obtain an experiential basis for our faith. We do not ignore the intellect or reasons for faith, but prayer makes our experience of God real on an emotional level.
9. Answered Prayer is a Potential Witness
If our prayer is answered, it can serve as a potential witness for those who doubt.
10. Prayer Strengthens the Bonds Between Believers
Prayer not only strengthens our relationship with God but when we pray with other believers, prayer also strengthens the bonds between fellow Christians.
11. Prayer Can Succeed Where Other Means Have Failed
Have all your options been exhausted? Prayer can succeed where other means have failed. Prayer should not be the last resort, but our first response. But there are times when sincere prayer must be offered in order to accomplish something.
12. Prayer Fulfills Emotional Needs
Do we need God through prayer? Yes! We were made to function best, emotionally, in a prayerful relationship with God. As Patriarch Conrad Sutherland would say it, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”
Prayer, then, has its reasons, and they are many.