Is Prayer Important?


Several months ago, a friend posted on Facebook about a current-events situation that seemed pretty bleak. One of his friends responded that we needed to pray for those involved.  My friend’s response: “Why? Prayer doesn’t change anything.”

This week, in the Fearless devotional, we looked at prayer…and not just anyone’s prayer life. Jesus’ prayer life. Jesus, in the short time He walked this earth as a man, modeled for us the importance of prayer. If prayer changed nothing, if it were meaningless and unnecessary, we would not have Jesus’ teaching about it or example in it — nor would the Bible provide us so many different accounts of how prayer changed lives and events throughout Scripture.

This week, we read Matthew 14:23, 25: “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.  …And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them, walking on the sea.” I looked up the when the fourth watch of the night was. It was 3 to 6am. So, Jesus spent a long time in prayer and in solitude with His Father. But perhaps what struck me most was that He TOOK the time. This was God himself! He could have talked to the Father in a nano-second; they shared the same divine mind! He had such limited time on earth, such limited time for ministry, but He took the time to retreat. He took the time to pray. I think I have plenty of important things to do in my day, but let’s face it; none of them are remotely close to feeding thousands of hungry people or healing the sick. That’s the kind of work Jesus was doing, and He refused to sacrifice His time with God.

The Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus prays as an example for us, is packed full of wisdom and knowledge. As I read this familiar prayer this week, I contemplated Laurie’s questions: if I make this prayer my own, what do I need to adjust in my thinking in order to pray this prayer honestly? Do I believe that my Father is in heaven? Whose name do I wish to exalt — His or mine? Whose will do I really wish to accomplish — His or mine?

These questions helped me understand that I do NOT have eyes to see as God does. None of us do. God’s ways are so much higher than ours. We are weak-minded. We are human. It was in seeing these truths that I understood why people think prayer is unimportant. We (a) pray according to our own will; and (b) expect God to answer our prayers according to our limited human mindset.  We think we know best. When prayers aren’t answered quickly or in the way we expected, perhaps it is easier to assume that our prayers are ignored than acknowledge that God is God and we are not.

As for me, there are prayers I lift up regularly to the Lord that have not yet been answered. But there are also many prayers He has answered, life-changing prayers of deliverance, of restoration, of provision, of salvation. And Scripture continually reminds us to turn to prayer, in all circumstances:

“…pray without ceasing…” (1 Thess. 5:17).

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 6:18 NIV).

Prayer is a gift to us. It allows us to commune with our loving and holy Father who deeply wishes to be in relationship with us. And when we pray with others, it allows us to bond with one another in a much deeper way than regular conversation permits.

So, back to my Facebook friend. I admit I did not comment on his post that day.  But one thing I did do. I prayed for him.

Growing in Grace


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