I find it fascinating that apart from all of the miracles Jesus performed, what His disciples most wanted to learn from Him was how to pray,
“It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
Prayer was such a significant aspect of Jesus’ life that His disciples wanted to learn how to pray. Do we have the same desire to pray? As I speak with people, an area that they often want to improve upon is their prayer life. Prayer is an opportunity to commune with the God of the universe – when we realize that God delights in our fellowship it can help us to see prayer as a practice that we “get to do” rather than a task that we “have to do”. Prayer is not simply a way to get what we want, but the way to become what God wants.
In addition to the many commands to pray, what are some specific reasons why you should pray at all times? Here are some helpful reasons to pray adapted from R.A. Torrey’s classic booklet, How to Pray:
1. Prayer is required for spiritual warfare – Ephesians 6:18 encourages us, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Remember that a spiritual battle requires spiritual weapons.
2. Prayer is God’s way of providing – James 4:2 reminds us. “. . . You do not have because you do not ask.” Sometimes we have not because we ask not.
3. Prayer was a priority of the Apostles – Acts 6:4 reveals their example, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Notice the priority of the apostles. Paul records numerous exhortations with regard to prayer (Rom 1:9, Eph 1:15-16, Col 1:9, 1 Thes 3:10, 2 Tim 1:3).
4. Prayer was a priority of our Lord Jesus Christ – Mark 1:35 shows us Jesus’ example after a busy evening of ministry, “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”
5. Prayer is a part of the present ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ – Heb 7:25, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
6. Coming to God in prayer provides mercy and grace – Heb 4:16 reveals that God cares about us, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
7. Prayer provides a means for your joy – John 16:24 encourages us to come to God in prayer, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”
8. Prayer provides peace for you in time of trouble – Phil 4:6-7 is a great verse of encouragement, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
9. Prayer is a means for gaining the fullness of the Holy Spirit – Luke 11:13 is a promise from Jesus, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
10. Prayer is a means for keeping you spiritually ready – Jesus encouraged His disciples in Luke 21:34-36, “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
11. It is a great aid in spiritual growth – We read in Psalm 139:23-24 that prayer can enable us to discern areas of sin in our lives, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”
12. Prayer provides effectiveness for ministry – John 14:12-14 records that prayer is the means whereby we can do greater works, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
13. Prayer ministers to others as we pray for the conversion and sanctification of others. Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12 is an example of such a prayer, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.”
14. Prayer enables you to learn great and mighty things from God – “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
Francois Fenelon wrote, “Of all the disciplines of the Christian life, none is more essential and yet more neglected, than prayer.” May you be encouraged by the words of Jesus, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mark 11:24
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
Follow me on twitter: rickhiggins5