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Prayer Has Its Reasons

Christian philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal (1623-62) wrote, "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing … " This article proposes that prayer has its reasons. Why we pray is important, as is prayer itself. What follows are twelve reasons to pray.

1. God's Word Calls Us to Pray

One key reason to pray is because God has commanded us to pray. If we are to be obedient to His will, then prayer must be part of our life in Him. Where does the Bible call us to prayer? Several passages are relevant:

  • "Pray for those who persecute you" –Matthew 5:44 (NIV) [1]
  • "And when you pray …" –Matthew 6:5
  • "This, then, is how you should pray …" –Matthew 6:9
  • "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." –Romans 12:12
  • "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." –Ephesians 6:18
  • "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." –Philippians 4:6
  • "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." –Colossians 4:2
  • "Pray continually" -1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …" -1 Timothy 2:1

Prayer is an act of obedience. God calls us to pray and we must respond.

2. Jesus Prayed Regularly

Why did Jesus pray? One reason he prayed was as an example so that we could learn from him. The Gospels are full of references to the prayers of Christ, including these examples:

  • "After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray." –Matthew 14:23
  • "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.'" –Matthew 26:36
  • "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." –Mark 1:35
  • "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." –Luke 5:16
  • "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." –Luke 6:12
  • "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." –Luke 18:1

3. Prayer is How We Communicate with God

Prayer allows us to worship and praise the Lord. It also allows us to offer confession of our sins, which should lead to our genuine repentance. Moreover, prayer grants us the opportunity to present our requests to God. All of these aspects of prayer involve communication with our Creator. He is personal, cares for us, and wants to commune with us through prayer.

  • " … 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." -2 Chronicles 7:14
  • Isaiah wrote, "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" (Isaiah 40:29-31).
  • Hebrews 4:15-16 reads, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Prayer is not just about asking for God's blessings – though we are welcome to do so – but it is about communication with the living God. Without communication, relationships fall apart. So, too, our relationship with God suffers when we do not communicate with Him.

4. Prayer Allows us to Participate in God's Works

Does God need our help? No. He is all powerful and in control of everything in His creation. Why do we need to pray? Because prayer is the means God has ordained for some things to happen. Prayer, for instance, helps others know the love of Jesus. Prayer can clear human obstacles out of the way in order for God to work. It is not that God can't work without our prayers, but that He has established prayer as part of His plan for accomplishing His will in this world.

5. Prayer Gives us Power Over Evil

Can physical strength help us overcome obstacles and challenges in the spiritual realm? No, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). But in prayer even the physically weak can become strong in the spiritual realm. As such, we can call upon God to grant us power over evil.

  • "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." -1 Timothy 4:8
  • "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." – Matthew 26:41

6. Prayer is Always Available

This point is covered separately in another article. But, in short, another reason to pray is because prayer is always available to us. Nothing can keep us from approaching God in prayer except our own choices (Psalm 139:7; Romans 8:38-39).

7. Prayer Keeps us Humble Before God

Humility is a virtue God desires in us (Proverbs 11:2; 22:4; Micah 6:8; Ephesians 4:2; James 4:10). Prayer reminds us that we are not in control, but God is, thus keeping us from pride.

  • "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." –Matthew 18:4

8. Prayer Grants us the Privilege of Experiencing God

Through prayer we obtain an experiential basis for our faith. We do not ignore the intellect or reasons for faith, but prayer makes our experience of God real on an emotional level.

9. Answered Prayer is a Potential Witness

If our prayer is answered, it can serve as a potential witness for those who doubt.

10. Prayer Strengthens the Bonds Between Believers

Prayer not only strengthens our relationship with God, but when we pray with other believers, prayer also strengthens the bonds between fellow Christians.

11. Prayer Can Succeed Where Other Means Have Failed

Have all your options been exhausted? Prayer can succeed where other means have failed. Prayer should not be a last resort, but our first response. But there are times when sincere prayer must be offered in order to accomplish something.

12. Prayer Fulfills Emotional Needs

Do we need God through prayer? Yes! We were made to function best, emotionally, in a prayerful relationship with God. As C.S. Lewis put it, "God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other." [2]

Prayer, then, has its reasons, and they are many.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible.

[2] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Macmillan, 1952), Book II, Chapter 3, "The Shocking Alternative."

Robert Velarde is author of Conversations with C.S. Lewis (InterVarsity Press), The Heart of Narnia (NavPress), and primary author of The Power of Family Prayer (National Day of Prayer Task Force). He studied philosophy of religion and apologetics at Denver Seminary and is pursuing graduate studies in philosophy at Southern Evangelical Seminary.

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