Reasons to Pray
(Biblical and other)
Biblical reasons to pray
By Mike Hubbard
May 11, 2009
I mentioned on Sunday that I was going to publish a few blogs this week on the issue of prayer and our prayer lives. I am going to pick several topics about prayer, and then let the Bible speak for itself. Most of these will be lists with Scripture passages. In this blog I am going to list some of the reasons the Scripture gives us for prayer. Our ongoing communication with God is vital for our individual and corporate church spirituality. Here are reasons why it is so important.
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Twelve Biblical Reasons Why We Should Pray
Rev. Dennis Metzger
This was in my church newsletter and I asked to reprint it. It is written by Rev. Dennis Metzger from First Baptist Church of Hamilton Ohio. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. – Dan, May 4, 2010
It was one of those brief conversations that make a lasting impression. Ruth and I had been married a few years, and we were spending a few days with my family in Akron during the Christmas holidays. As we had finished gathering our things that had been scattered around the house, preparing to return to our home in Michigan, we sat down with a cup of tea at my mother’s kitchen table. We were just speaking the usual pleasantries about how good it was to be home, and thanking her for her hospitality, that she told us something I had never heard before. Read on…
Some of you may remember that my parents were divorced when my sister and I were still in our elementary school. Dad had been gone for a few years before my mom remarried, adding a new sister and brother a few years later. Mom held our family together during those interim days, and I look back on her efforts with much appreciation and admiration. One of Mom’s concerns, of course, was the welfare of my sister, Cathie, and me. It is during such times of uncertainty and insecurity that most of us fall on our knees before the throne of grace asking for wisdom and help from the One who provides both with abundance and much love…
That is the
back-story. As we sat at the kitchen table on that day in December, Mom told us
that she had committed her kids to the Lord during those lonely days, asking
God’s protection and guidance upon our lives. She said she gave the Lord
permission to use her son in any way that He desired, and that I was totally
His–100%. I remember placing my hand on hers, telling her that I had not known
that story before, and how thankful I was for her willingness to offer me to the
Lord. I believe that it was this prayerful sacrifice of my mother on my behalf
that followed me as I made my way in this world in my early years, which
ultimately brought me into the Lord’s ministry.
I could have gone any number of directions in college. I began with an interest in English lit and grammar; focused my studies in the sciences with a B.S. in Biology, and could have easily taken that major into the public classroom. I spent time substitute teaching my last year after finishing up my final few hours. But behind all of that was a desire to study theology and the Lord’s ministry. I have a heart for the things of God, and believe that it began with my mother’s commitment and prayerful invitation to the Lord to make me His very own.
On April 18th, I began a new series in the morning worship services entitled, The Great Adventure. The focus is that the members and friends of First Baptist would become a people who understand the value and necessity of committed personal prayer. There are many reasons why those who are committed to the Lord should follow this path. Allow me to take a few lines to list them. Twelve Biblical reasons why we should pray:
1. God values our prayers.
In John’s letter to the churches in Revelation, there is a scene in the fifth chapter where John sees with His own eyes the glory of the living and resurrected Savior as he stands before the throne of God in his regained power and splendor. The relevant portion of the text reads:
Then I saw a Lamb [Jesus], looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders…He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Rev 5:6-8).
That is a remarkable passage in many respects. But to think that the heart expressions of our lives in prayer are like a sweet-smelling incense in the presence of God is a sobering thought. When our praise, adoration, and petitions leave our hearts, they are treasured by the God who hears them. That is an image we need to hold firmly in mind. God deeply desires that we would offer the prayers of our hearts to him–words of praise, thanksgiving, petition for our own needs; intercession for the needs of others. God values our prayers.
2. We are instructed in the Bible to pray.
Matthew 5:44 – “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;”
Romans 12:12 – “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
James 5:16 – “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
3. We should follow Jesus’ example, and like Him, pray regularly.
Luke 5:16 – “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Luke 6:12 – “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the [whole] night praying to God.”
course you know of the prayers of our Lord Jesus on the evening before his
crucifixion. Jesus prayed to the Father that He would be able to
complete the work the Father gave Him to do. And the Father answered that prayer.
4. Prayer is how we communicate our worship and praise to God.
Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
1 Thes. 5:17 – “pray continually.”
5. Through prayer, God allows us to participate in His work on behalf of others.
Prayer can heal nations and grant us strength to endure difficulties. Prayer also plays a part in bringing others to faith in Christ. You already know the most powerful promise that we have used in times of national prayer:
2 Chron. 7:14 – “If my people, who are called by my name, will 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.”
Isaiah 40:29-31 – “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
6. Prayer gives us power over evil.
Physical power and strength are of no use in the spiritual realm. Even the physically weak can be strong in prayer:
James 4:7-8 – “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
7. Prayer is always available to us.
Nothing can keep a believer from coming before God. Governments may condemn and forbid God’s Word, but there are no barriers to prayer.
Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
8. Prayer keeps us humble before God.
Through prayer we realize that God is in control and we can do nothing apart from Him.
Jeremiah 32:17 - “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
9. Prayer grants us the privilege of experiencing the reality, the presence, and the power of God.
Acts 1:8 – “But
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
ends of the earth.”
10. Answered prayer has the potential to be an incredible witness to unbelievers.
Skeptics will always have criticisms and doubts regarding answered prayer, but some will see the power of God at work, and as a result, may be drawn to Christ.
Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
11. Prayer strengthens the bonds among believers. Scripture instructs us to pray for and confess our sins to one another. Through this we learn empathy and understand the needs of others.
Ephesians 6:18 – “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 saints.”
12. Prayer succeeds where other means have failed.
Prayer is not a last resort, but it can often make a difference where other methods have failed.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
To his prophet Jeremiah, God revealed His heart–a heart that issues forth in good things for those who love Him:
Jeremiah 29:11-13 – “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”
Prayer is commanded in the Scriptures. It is also an amazing privilege. God, the Creator, invites us to come to Him personally to share in a lifestyle of relationship.
In prayer, we hear the invitation of God Himself who says, “I long for the pleasure of your company. Won’t you join Me?” I pray that we will find
ourselves emboldened and willing to do so.
Because a mother prayed…Pastor
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Top Ten Reasons to Pray
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Twelve Reasons to Pray
John Van Diest & J. Carl Laney
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Why do we pray in the first place? 15 Reasons
As I've embarked on this experiment of trying to disciple six people, we have just a few goals. We're going to pray more and I'm going to help them grow in one area of their lives. In our initial email exchanges, we've already bumped up against a fundamental question: Why do we pray? Here are 15 reasons. Post your own in the comment section.
(For more on prayer, check out the "Prayer" topic on Seth’s blog.)
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Top Ten Reasons to Become a Pray-er
Posted March 28, 2008
David Jordan is a pray-er. He believes completely in the power of prayer and knows there are people like you who are ready to join the powerful movement of prayer. Download the free 30-day trial of PrayerQuakeTM at http://www.prayerquake.net.
Those who pray hold a unique place in the world. Discover why to become a person of prayer – a pray-er and experience the power God will bring to your life.
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Motivating Reasons to Pray
By Dan Hayes
April 28, 2010
I know prayer is important. All the godly people I’ve ever met testify to the crucial nature of prayer in their lives. So I understand I should pray, but . . .
Well, let me be honest. It can seem that our motivation for prayer is results-oriented, simply to get answers. Prayer can feel like a grocery list: “Our Father, who art in heaven . . . Gimme, gimme, gimme!” This is sort of a “shop ’til you drop” way of praying. But somehow I cannot see that as the prime (and certainly not the most satisfying) reason to pray.
So I began to study how and why Jesus prayed, and discovered five very motivating reasons to pray.
Here are some thoughts about these five motivating reasons:
1. Prayer Builds My Relationship with Jesus.
I am first called to prayer because it is a key vehicle to building my love relationship with Jesus Christ. Hear me now -this is important. Christianity is not primarily rules. It is relationship.
Certainly Christ has standards, but we don’t become Christians because we receive standards. We become Christians because we receive Christ, who loves us, died for us, lives in us daily.
What I need, then, is to build my love relationship with Him. I have to learn to allow Him to embrace me, to care for me, to point out my needs to me (and how He fills them). I need to listen to Him, and I desperately need to talk to Him.
In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul prays, “that you may be able to comprehend . . . what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge . . .” “Know” in this passage is the same word used for the intimate closeness of a husband and wife in sexual embrace. Paul is praying that you and I will experience that kind of love with Christ – not sexual, but intimate, deep, close, unfettered. It is so deep that Paul later says it “surpasses knowledge.”
One place we can experience this is in prayer. When we “get down and get honest” before God, we are on His turf in a unique way. Seldom do we get closer to Him than in prayer. When we pray, we can pray to experience this love, to be bathed in it, to learn how to give it back, to learn how to let it seep into the dry cracks and crevices of our lives.
I think that the chief reason for the gift of prayer is that we learn to receive, experience, and return His love in genuine relationship. Prayer is one place when God can get at us (and we think prayer is for getting at Him!) and speak to and minister to us. That is why David prays in Psalms 18:1, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.”
2. Prayer Helps Us Overcome Temptation.
Prayer is an important instrument in our overcoming sin and temptation. Perhaps no experience in the earthly life of Christ is more instructive on prayer than in Luke 22:39-41. Luke sets the scene. It is the night before Jesus’ death. Jesus and His apostles have left the upper room and have navigated the winding path they knew well, up the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane. Jesus knows that great temptations are soon before them – His capture, His trials, His scourging, His mockery, the lure of their denial, His Crucifixion.
Mindful of their need for fortitude, He addresses them: “He says, “pray [in order] that you may not enter into temptation.” What did He mean? Simply that their antidote to yielding to the temptations that fear, discouragement, and horror would soon present, was prayer. Prayer would fortify their trembling faith and courage. How could He know this? Because He, too, faced His own darkness. Looming in the next few hours were insults, torturous beatings, being nailed to a cross. Beyond that, He would bear all the sins of humanity, including the sins of all the child molesters and mass murderers and the Adolph Hitlers of all the ages. Can you imagine the terror that must have clutched at His throat? We are naive if we think it did not occur to the humanness of Jesus, to abort His mission, to look for another way.
So what did He do? He modeled exactly what He had told His disciples: He prayed so that He could defeat temptation. We are told by Luke that His prayers were so heartfelt, His struggles so intense, that His sweat was bloody, pre-figuring the flow that would come tomorrow. He began His prayers with, “Father if there is any way that this cup can pass from Me…”At the end of that hour, He rose from prayer, having settled with His Father, “not My will but Thine be done.” Prayer had been the means of His victory. He returned to His men to find them . . . asleep! He had told them to pray. Instead, they followed the college students’ motto: “When in doubt; sack out!” He confronts their tiredness, their crankiness at being awakened, and says again (verse 46), “pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Notice that He commanded this in the beginning of this passage, then He demonstrated it in the body of this passage, and He reiterated it at the end of this passage. When you face temptation, PRAY! That is what will see you through. But instead, usually we pray only after we have yielded. What about seeing prayer as our first option so that God can give us courage and strength prior to our temptations? If we would pray more, we would yield less!
3. Prayer is crucial in determining God’s will.
We pray because prayer is crucial in determining God’s will. “Now you’re talking,” you say. Here’s something you might hear from Christians: “I pray about my choices, and when I have ‘peace’ about one of the options, then I go with it.” Yet, how askew is that from God’s Word. Prayer certainly is vital in determining His will, but not because it gives us peace. Let me show you how faulty such thinking is.
I asked a group of Christians once, “How many of you have ever shared your faith, witnessed to another person about Jesus? Well, right before you shared your faith, which was almost certainly God’s will, how many of you felt this warm, calm sense of ‘peace?’ Hold up your hands. Hmmm. No hands! Weren’t you rather scared, nervous? Perhaps your palms sweated. Shoot, your hair sweated. No great feeling of peace there, but you did it anyway because it was God’s will, right?” God’s real will often produced scary feelings, not warm fuzzy ones. So wait. How does prayer help determine His will then? Jesus again gives us a demonstration in Luke’s gospel. Read Luke 6:12-16. Here, He prays all night about choosing from the hundreds who followed Him, a special group of disciples whom we now know as the Apostles.
How did prayer help? It helped in the way John Wesley described. “I find,” he said, “that the chief purpose of prayer in seeking God’s will is that prayer gets my will into an unbiased state. Once my will is unprejudiced about the matter, I find God suggests reasons to my mind why I should or should not pursue a course.”
The chief purpose of prayer, then, is to get our wills unbiased! The purpose is not to give us an ethereal sense of comfort. Thus, we pray to God about His will in some area, knowing that we probably are already leaning in a certain direction. We implore Him first to help our wills to move back to the center -that is, willing to do whatever is His will. Once we arrive there (and it may take some time), He shows us through our minds why one alternative is better than another and therefore is His will for us.
This is conjecture, but Jesus must have had a long talk with the Father regarding individuals and who to select for His closest followers. Jesus talked to the Father all night about this. Maybe Jesus had preferences for His followers. He probably had a list – at least a mental one. Perhaps Peter was already on it, but perhaps Andrew was not. Thomas certainly wouldn’t have been on mine, and neither would Simon the Zealot. Maybe they weren’t at the top of Jesus’, either. Yet, through the work of His Father and His own yielded nature in intercession, the reasons came clear to Him why all three of these men plus nine others should be tapped.
Our searching out of God’s will can be the same. We pray so that our wills (not our emotions) can be yielded to the Divine “whatever.” Then II Timothy 1:7 becomes alive: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound judgment.” As we spend time with God in prayer, He will guide us to ideas, thoughts, reasons, Scripture, which will reveal His will to us. It might be over days, weeks or sometimes months…but to know God’s will requires talking to Him about it.
4. Prayer accomplishes God’s work.
Here is a major accelerator to my motivation to pray, and it stems from one of the most amazing statements Jesus ever made. It is found in John 14:12-14. It would be good to open your Bible there because you’ve got to see it to believe it.
It is the night of the Last Supper, and Judas has left to betray Jesus. His leaving allows Christ to pass on some of the most sublime of His earthly teachings to the remaining faithful. In the context, He is discussing His deity, His union with the Father, and the works of God in the world. Suddenly, He makes this statement: “Truly, truly . . . he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he shall do; because I go to the Father.”
Look at that statement. Savor it. Regard it. Study it. “He shall do.” Jesus did not say, “they shall do.” He did not say, “the corporate body all combined together will do.” He used a singular pronoun meaning one person. “The very works that I do and greater than these” is His statement.
What works did our Lord do on earth? Oh, just a few: cleansed the lepers, healed the sick, proclaimed release to the captives, taught tens of thousands, led thousands to salvation, raised the dead, healed those born blind. Piece of cake! Yet the plain fact of Jesus’ statement is that the only qualifier to doing such works is “[the one] who believes in ME.” How? Verses 13 and 14 relate directly to verse 12. “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” And, since He knew they wouldn’t get it the first time (and neither would we), He repeats it: “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
Prayer is the way His greater works get done! Most of us will not be worldwide evangelists, though a few will be. Most of us will not be gifted in healing, though some will be. Most of us will not be great preachers and teachers, though some will be. But every one of us can kneel down and pray. We can pray, asking Jesus to touch the lost masses of earth and help snatch them from eternal darkness to eternal life. Through prayer, we can participate in Christ’s healing power spreading both medically and miraculously across the earth. Every one of us can pray, asking Jesus to stop the forces of moral degeneracy that threatens to engulf the depth of the human spirit. Every one of us can do these things through our prayers!
Today, if I will, I can spend 15 minutes on peoples’ behalf, influencing them for God and for good. Today, I can spend 20 minutes touching the entrenched Muslim minds of the Mullah’s of Saudi Arabia or the ascetic Buddhist Monks of Nepal. Today, I can stand against pornography and rape and incest and child abuse in the far-flung towns of this country. Because, when I talk to God in my living room, or office, or church, He is the same God who reaches into families, into Nepal, into Arabia, into the Kremlin, into homes. I participate with Him, not only through my efforts and works in my geographic location, but also throughout the world in accomplishing His works through my prayers. It matters not what type of gifts, talent, or personality I have; it matters only that I take this time to cooperate with Him in my prayers. And that is all that matters for you, too. May we “get it” before much more time passes. Jesus said, “…greater works than these he shall do; because I go to the Father.” Anything that brings the Father glory, Jesus said, “ask Me…I will do it.”
5. Prayer is a weapon of spiritual warfare.
Prayer is a major weapon in fighting the spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:10-20 reminds us that ultimately our struggles are not against humans, but against powerful spiritual beings and forces. The picture here is that of a war. Life as a Christian is not a playground; it’s a battlefield.
We are instructed by Paul, an experienced soldier in this combat, to be appropriately prepared for our struggle. Modeling a Roman warrior, we put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, loins girded with truth, feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel, shield of faith, sword of the Spirit (the Word of God).
Now, it seems we have a complete set of armor and weaponry. And if I were writing this passage, I would say, “Now get out there and fight the battle!” But interestingly, Paul does not say that. In fact, he waits until verse eighteen to get to the heavy artillery of this arsenal of God… persistent prayer. Notice what he says: “With all prayer and petition pray . . . with all perseverance and prayer . . . and pray . . .”
In two verses, we are commanded to pray five different times. Do you think he (and God) are trying to make a point? He is attempting to seize our attention concerning prayer’s power in the defeat of Satan and his tactics. Parallel to this text is 2 Corinthians 10:3,4: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
The weapon of prayer softens up Satan’s fortress. It is the cannon, reducing the wall to rubble so that the troops can go through. Too often, the gospel moves slowly because the softening-up process of prayer has been neglected. When practiced, however, prayer “puts the wind at the back” of Christ’s soldiers.
For example, a few years ago, at a prestigious American university, one powerful administrator was blocking the placement of additional full-time Christian workers on campus because of his own disbelief in the gospel. The Christian students on campus resorted first to prayer. Feeling that no one had the right to keep students from hearing about Christ, they prayed that God would either change this man’s heart or remove him from his position. For six months they prayed faithfully.
Suddenly, for no “apparent” reason, he was transferred to a different position and a replacement named. Among the first questions the replacement asked was this: “Why aren’t there more Christian workers on campus?” The workers came, and the gospel flourished. Prayer is key to fighting this spiritual battle.
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