What Is Prayer?
The greatest privilege a Christian has is the privilege of prayer. Not only is it a privilege, but it is also the responsibility of every believer. Jesus said that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).
Prayer is simply talking to God, letting our concerns and requests be made known to Him. When we pray, we admit our need for God and our utter dependence on Him. Only through a relationship with Jesus Christ do we have access to God (see 1 Timothy 2:5). We approach God in Jesus’ name, not our own.
Prayer is not a means of trying to get from God what we want, but rather a means by which we enable God to give us what He wants.
We’re to pray because God commands it (see 2 Chronicles 7:14; Luke 18:1). Through prayer, we receive things (see James 4:2), experience fullness of joy (see John 16:24), and find help in times of trouble. Prayer is the cure for worry (see Philippians 4:6) and also helps us resist temptation (see Matthew 26:41).
When Are We to Pray?
We are to pray always (see Ephesians 6:18). The Bible instructs us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Types of Prayer
Praise and Adoration
Through praise and adoration, we acknowledge God’s goodness. We must recognize that when we pray, we enter God’s presence (see Matthew 6:9). As we reverence the Lord by communing with Him in prayer, our relationship with Him becomes more intimate and our love more tender.
Confession and Repentance
Confession and repentance are prerequisites for approaching God. The Bible assures us of forgiveness if we confess our sins to God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
We should continually thank God for what He has done for us. We’re to thank Him during the good times, as well as the bad times, “giving thanks always for all things…” (Ephesians 5:20). We’re also to make our requests to God “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6).
We are to pray for our needs and ask God for help in our daily affairs. We must never think that our requests are too small or too big to bring before God. As Christians we are to pray about everything, being confident that God hears us, cares about us, and acts on our behalf.
Intercession means to pray on behalf of—and for—other people (see 1 Timothy 2:1). We’re to pray for our family, friends, leaders, our country, and whatever else God lays on our hearts. We are to pray for them as seriously as we pray for ourselves.
What if I Don’t Pray?
Neglecting to pray is a sin. Samuel said, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
D. L. Moody summarized the necessity of prayer with this observation: “Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, but only how to pray.”