JOY in Prayer | Part 1: Why is Prayer Important?

My number one New Year’s resolution was to pray more, but why? Why make prayer such an important goal, when for most of us, it is already a part of our daily lives? Since I was little, I said my prayers every night, we prayed multiple times during a church service, and I memorized the Lord’s Prayer. We have all heard someone say “I’m praying for you,” or we’ve heard someone ask “Can you pray for me/someone else?” Obviously, we know that it is important; it’s talking to God. But why is it so important to make it more than just an item on our daily to-do list or an item on the church bulletin?

How I first look at prayer is that it is a chance to directly thank and praise God for all that He is. Yes, it is good to ask God for healing and ask him to aid in a request, but it is also important to remember to thank Him for what he has already blessed us with. Thanking God can remind us just how big he really is. It can remind us how good, loving, forgiving, merciful, and mighty He is. By starting our prayer with thanks, it can help us not to get so frustrated about unanswered prayers; it reminds us that every answer has a time and place and that ultimately, all of our prayers have been answered in some form or fashion.

Also, God deserves our thanks and praise just because all that God does is because of grace. We don’t deserve anything God has done or continues to do for us, yet He does it anyways. The least we can do is remember to thank Him for all He is and all He has done. 

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.
— Psalm 117

Whenever I am in a stressful situation, I start to worry a ridiculous amount. Honestly, how much I worry is embarrassing, considering that I call myself a Christian. If I truly and fully believe in Christ, I shouldn’t get so worked up, but once I start worrying, it begins to escalate. I can’t think clearly, and I usually cry, or my heart rate and breathing start racing. But what I’ve found is that if I simply pray a prayer of thanks, it reminds me that God has been with me in the past and He will continue to be with me now. Prayer is powerful in that it can bring peace, and by thanking God for all that He has done, we remind ourselves that God is actually with us always; it’s just our responsibility to remember that He is there. If we just at look prayer as something that we have to do each day, it loses that calming effect.

The second way I look at prayer is that prayer is one of the most genuine ways to care about someone. Hearing that someone is actually praying for you is one of the most relieving and humbling things to hear because it means that they are taking the time to lift you up during their conversation with Christ. They are lifting you up during their very real conversation with the Lord. Prayer is when you can really, truly, voice your concerns about anyone or anything to the biggest change-maker in the universe.

As I was reading the first chapter of Ephesians, what really stood out to me was the powerful, sincere prayer that Paul says he prayed for the Ephesians. 

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, that the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
— Ephesians 1:15-19

Seriously, how awesome is that prayer? Paul prays such deep and meaningful things for the Ephesians simply because he heard they were believers. He isn’t afraid to express his desires to God. These verses are what caused me to realize that not only do I need to pray more, but I need to reevaluate how I’m praying. Prayer doesn’t have to be formal or have correct grammar and flowing syntax, but prayer is something that needs to be vulnerable and sincere. It needs to be a time where you get real with God, a time where you speak out your hearts deepest concerns and desires to the one that actually holds and guards it.

The final way I see awe in prayer is simply in its power: it’s power to join together brothers and sisters in Christ. Fellow believers are joined together when they pray in open vulnerability for healing and guidance. We are united when they pray for a common purpose. Even if the bad situation doesn’t go away, prayer has brought peace to the individuals, and it has brought individuals together in a supportive and loving community. Prayer sets our deep-soul love on fire for God and for others. In Ephesians 3, Paul says another prayer asking that the Ephesians be filled with love and that this love and hope last in them as individuals and last in the church as a body for ages to come. 

I pray out of his glorious riches that he may strengthen you with the power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all of the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure with the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
— Ephesians 3: 16-21

The power that prayer has in bringing together believers and the power it has in helping people to express love, makes me think of the Facebook pages that are for a child with cancer or a family going through a hard time. It’s crazy how quickly this cause has united thousands of people who have never met all because of prayer. It has formed a supportive and loving and hopeful community, which, besides Christ, is what we as Christians so desperately need. It’s the same thing with a Church body. We are united in that we all worship the same God, but when we pray together and for each other, we are suddenly connected at a deeper, sincerer level. Prayer helps remind a group of believers who is really at the center of it all.

Prayer can accomplish many things. Prayer is when we pick up the phone to talk to Christ on his 24/7 available line. Prayer is where we can open up about anything and talk to the Lord, without fear of judgment and with knowing He is always listening. Prayer is where we can remember and recognize God’s greatness. Prayer is a way we can connect to other believers, and it can even be a way to connect to non-believers. Prayer is powerful, prayer is vulnerable, prayer is sincere, prayer is thanksgiving.