You know that you are supposed to pray but to be honest, you wonder why? I mean, if God knows everything, why pray? Won't he do what he wants to do anyway? Do my prayers even matter? These are valid questions that people avoid answering more often than not.
So, in this article, we are going after the question, "Why are we called to pray?"
1. To Connect with God
Do you ever feel disconnected from God? The answer? Prayer. Every relationship will die unless the people involved work on communication: no communication — no lasting relationship.
The same goes for your relationship with God. You were designed to communicate with the creator of your soul, and that is the first, primary reason for praying — to connect with God.
Prayer is your dialogue with God. It is where you truly develop a relationship with Him. He doesn't need your prayer to be polished or perfect. He doesn't require you to start with "Dear Lord," like a formal letter, or end with "Amen," like you’re signing offline.
Instead, he asks us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV). In other words, "talk to me all the time!" He wants it to be constant, like a spouse or friend you shoot a text to whenever you think of something funny, sad, or random.
He wants it, to be honest. He wants to be the one you turn to first. He promises, "The Lord is near to all who call on him..." (Psalms 145:18).
Do you feel anxious? Talk to him about it. Don't believe the lie that says, "It's not a big deal, or God is too busy for me." Instead, he says, "Anything, any size, talk to me about it" (Philippians 4:6).
Are you worried about the provision? Ask him for help! "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11).
You are not a beggar, annoying God with a request again. Instead, you are a child, asking your dad for food from the fridge, and it is his joy to answer you.
2. To Be Freed from Sin
The night that Judas betrayed Jesus, he warned his disciples, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).
Have you noticed that you usually sin when you feel weak? When we feel vulnerable, sad, tired, depressed, hurt, or lonely, temptation comes knocking, offering a temporary distraction from the pain. Jesus gives us the answer on how to overcome those weak moments. Through prayer.
He says, "Do you feel weak? Then you need to pray so that you won't fall into temptation." Prayer is a key to keeping you from falling because it reconnects you to God again.
But what if you do fall into sin? Prayer once again is the answer to getting washed clean and reconnected to God.
Like Adam and Eve, when we fall into sin, the devil wants us to be afraid and hide from God (Genesis 3:10). When we pray, talk to God, and repent, it refreshes our spirits once again (Acts 3:19-20, NLT).
Repentance isn't a sad thing, but rather a gift! Therefore, we should joyfully repent, knowing that it will restore us to the refreshing presence of Jesus once again!
3. To Heal the Land
Did you know that your prayers can heal lands and nations? Like gravity is a law of nature, God created specific spiritual laws that act whether we notice them or not.
When the nation repented, Elijah sought the Lord and prayed for rain, and water started to fall! You may say, "Well, he was one of those Old Testament super holy prophet guys."
But James 5:17 tells us, "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops."
I don't claim to know exactly how it works, but I do know that according to the Bible when a nation's people turn to God, humble themselves, and pray, natural elements can shift and change and can heal not only lives but also lands.
4. To Go and Make Disciples
One of the most amazing verses in the Bible for me is Matthew 9:37-38, "Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
There is a significant supply and demand problem that Jesus addresses here. He claims a vast harvest of souls wants God, but there are not enough people to get them all saved!
So, what are we to do? Do we spend more money on missionaries? Do we design better programs? Do we train more people? These are all great ideas, no doubt, but that is not the answer Jesus gives.
He says to pray. It is God's field and harvests, yet somehow, he puts the responsibility upon us to pray. If we believe this verse means what it says, then the logical conclusion is that if we pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest, it will happen! But the reverse is also true.
If we do not pray for laborers, they will not be sent. There is a direct correlation between our prayers and how many missionaries are in the field. Our prayers have huge ramifications on the salvation of people we will never meet.
5. To Aid in Spiritual Warfare
When Jesus is teaching on spiritual warfare and demons, Jesus says in Matthew 12:28, "But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
He shows here that the only way to kick out demonic powers is by binding the demon and kicking it out of the person or region! You may say, "Well that is only Jesus. Only he can bind demonic powers and kick them out."
I would agree with you. But then later, in Matthew 18:18, Jesus says, "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (ESV).
He places the responsibility once again upon us. He gave us the ability to bind and loose things on earth and in the spiritual realm as well!
So once again, if we believe what this verse is saying — that it means that if we don't bind them, they won't be bound, and if we don't loose good things, they may not be loosed.
What? Seems hard to believe. This reveals spiritual warfare. As soon as Daniel prayed, an angel was loosed from heaven with a message (Daniel 10:12-13).
But then a demonic power over the land fought and bound the angel up, but Daniel kept praying! Then 21 days in, the Archangel Michael is sent to fight the demon and frees the first angel to come to deliver the message.
All the while, Daniel was praying in his room. He had no idea he was fueling spiritual warfare!
6. To Heal People
According to the Bible, when people are sick, we should pray (James 5:13-18). Many people use this verse to claim that going to the doctor is wrong. That is not what this verse is saying. Humans tend to choose one thing or another when God often uses both.
God never said doctors are wrong, he merely said when someone is sick, pray for their healing, and your prayers will help heal them!
We have the Spirit, we have a soul, and live in a body. So, we must deal with sickness in all three dimensions as well. Go to the doctor, get medicine and nutrition, and pray that God would heal them. It's a both-and, not an either-or.
So why do we pray? Because it shifts and changes both the natural and spiritual realm. Prayer not only reconnects you personally to God and refreshes you, but it can heal the land, send out missionaries, bind up demonic strongholds, and heal people.
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Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Taylor Jensen is a missionary, pastor, and world traveler. His passion is to help equip believers with practical ways to ignite their faith and bring Jesus into the world around them. That is the goal of his personal blog Fireplace Faith. Want to Learn How to Hear God's Voice? Subscribe here to get his Free Ebook “8 Biblical Ways to Hear God's Voice.” Reach out to him any time through his blog or through his social media accounts @taylorcjensen.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
Video credits for audio, video, photos: Soundstripe, Storyblocks, LightStock, ThinkStock, GettyImages; Voiceover by Stephen Sanders
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This article is part of our prayer resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.