What’s Important in Prayer


What's Important in Prayer to Keep Us Praying
Most Christians, even many non-Christians, acknowledge the importance of prayer, though they might not pray regularly and/or fervently. Many want to be prayer warriors but struggle to make it a priority. Perhaps what’s needed is an awareness of what’s important in prayer, not just the importance of praying.

What’s Important in Prayer That Will Keep Us Praying

One reason we might not pray regularly and/or fervently could be that we haven’t consistently experienced the power of prayer. We aren’t going to know how powerful praying can be if we fail to include some key elements in our attitude and approach to it.

1) importance of the heart, not just the mechanics of praying

James 5:16 makes it clear that its “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” because “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer” (1 Pet. 3:12). None of us are righteous in ourselves. When we put our trust in Jesus and what He did in dying on the cross for our sin, His righteousness was granted to us (Rom. 4:22-25) so when God looks at us He sees Christ’s righteousness. Positionally we are made right with God but practically we still sin and need to come back into fellowship with Him so our prayers aren’t impeded (Ps. 66:18). — “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9)

2) importance of authenticity or truth, not just praying what we think God or others want to hear

Praying that’s about impressing usually stems from pride but praying that’s real grows out of humility and is that which God responds to (2 Chron. 7:14; Lk. 18:10-14). When we’re authentic, we often find ourselves pouring out our hearts in prayer (Ps. 62:8). That’s when we tend to be most aware of God’s presence as we pray. — “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Ps. 145:18)

3) importance of relationship, not just praying out of a sense of duty

While we do find many commands to not just pray but to devote ourselves to prayer (Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2), praying continually and in everything (Eph. 6:18, Phil. 4:6, 1 Thess. 5:17), prayer needs to go beyond mere obedience. We will want to pray more and more when we approach prayer as a means of communing, or connecting, with our heavenly Father. We want to communicate with the One we love.

4) importance of gratitude, not just petitioning

Too often we make prayer about asking God for what we don’t have. What about thanking Him for what we do have? There must be a reason the command to “pray continually” is followed by “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18). There must be a reason the command to “devote yourselves to prayer” is coupled with “being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2). Too often we can get so consumed with how God may not be answering our prayers the way we expect that we fail to see how He is working on our behalf. If we don’t think prayer works, we’ll have little motivation to keep praying. When we watch for what God is doing, we’ll find ourselves praising and wanting to pray.

When the above elements increasingly become part of our praying, prayer becomes more than a tack on to the beginning or end of our day or church meeting. Prayer will not just be our last resort but rather our first response. Praying no longer will be an option but a necessity and no longer something we “ought to” do but rather “want to” do.

Check Out These Resources about Prayer:



Pointers on How to Pray


Often people want steps on “how to” do various tasks or a pattern for how to do it. The same holds true with prayer. Though Jesus did give a pattern for how we might pray in what’s been called “The Lord’s Prayer” (Lk. 11:1-4), He put more emphasis on what goes on inside than the actual words or action of praying.

Pointers Jesus Gave on How to Pray

Throughout the Gospels Jesus spoke about prayer as an attitude of the heart. He modeled prayer that focused more on God than His own needs.

1) Be authentic when you pray.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt. 6:5-8)

2) Be eternally minded in prayer.

Jesus prayed, Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. (Lk. 22:40-46)

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. … I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (Jn. 17:20-23)

3) Be full of faith when you pray.

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matt. 21:22)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mk. 11:24)

4) Be persistent in praying.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. … (Lk. 18:1-8)

Church Purpose Ministry Manual with Pointers on How to PrayYou’ll find these pointers Jesus gave on how to pray from the Gospels, plus six more points about how to pray found elsewhere in Scripture, listed in the Church Purpose Ministry Manual which looks at prayer as one of the ways we fulfill our purpose to love God.


Reasons We Don’t Pray


Reasons We Don't Pray When We're Exhorted to be Devoted to PrayerWe’re exhorted to be devoted to prayer (Col. 4:2), to pray on all occasions (Eph. 6:18), continually (1 Thess. 5:17), and to not give up (Lk. 18:1). Sometimes, however, we might struggle to remain consistent, wholehearted, and alert in prayer. As we already considered, we have good reasons to pray so it would seem reasons we don’t pray might be more symptomatic of something deeper.

Getting Below the Surface of Reasons We Don’t Pray

We might claim to be ignorant about what to pray and how to pray. Yet, God never made prayer complicated.

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Ps. 62:8)

We might think we’re too busy, too tired, and hence too distracted to pray and get anything out of it. Yet, these the times we most need His help.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

… those who hope in (wait on) 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. (Isa. 40:31)

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16b)

Perhaps we’re angry or disappointed with God because of what He allowed into our lives even though we prayed. Yet, we humans don’t know better than a God who is holy and righteous, all-wise and sovereign, as well as gracious and loving.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:9)

Maybe we tried and tried and just couldn’t make ourselves pray consistently so gave up because it’s too hard. Yet, God never said it would be easy nor intended for us to “do” the Christian life through self-determination and self-striving.

Cease striving and know that I am God. (Ps. 46:10, NASB)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Eph. 6:18)


Reasons to Pray


We have many reasons to pray. — Why do you pray?

Is it because you need something? Jesus did say, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt. 7:7). Perhaps you pray because you find comfort in it. That makes sense since you’re praying to the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Maybe you pray because it’s what Christians do. Even back to the Early New Testament Church, Christ-followers devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42).

While we find biblical support for these reasons, some are more self-centered than God-centered. It could be that praying is more learned behavior than from the heart. So, what are some other biblical reasons for praying? What will provide us with the motivation to make prayer a continued priority?

Two Good Biblical Reasons to Pray

Commands: Praying is a matter of obedience to God. (Lk. 18:1; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17)

Duty alone might not keep us praying. If we’re out of fellowship with God, we’ll find it easier to disobey this command. And, if we do pray out of obligation, that is not going to solve the problem of keeping focused when we pray.

Commitment & Cooperation: Praying is a matter of an undivided heart toward God seeking to come into alignment with God. (Ps. 16:1-2; Acts 2:42; Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2)

Devotion alone might make us want to pray and might put us on the right track to a better prayer life but won’t necessary bring life and energy into it.

The Best Reason for Praying

Communion: Praying is a matter of relationship with God. (Matt. 22:37-38; Jn. 15:5-7)

Delight in the One to whom we pray provides a motivation and passion to pray, and continue praying, that supersedes all other reasons to pray. When we pray because we delight in the Lord, duty and devotion are there but aren’t our main focus. HE is. When praying is about relationship, we enjoy communion with God so much that we keep praying even if we don’t get the responses we hoped to receive.

Prayer Bits Devotion to Help You Pray
The Prayer Bits: Small Bits But Big Truths on Prayer Devotional Guide can help you go deeper into truths about prayer without taking a lot of study time.

Prayer Ministry Manual
The Prayer Ministry Manual can help you make prayer more of a priority in your own life as well as in your church or ministry.


Results of Making Prayer a Priority


When we pray, we let God know that He and His will, are important to us. And, He lets us know how important we are to Him. He does that by allowing us to experience the following results of making prayer a priority.

3 Results of Making Prayer a Priority

1) God is near to us.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Ps. 145:18)

2) God helps us.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

3) God protects us with His peace.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Results of Making Prayer a Priority in Church Purpose Ministry ManualYou’ll find these results, plus two more, listed in the Church Purpose Ministry Manual which looks at prayer as one of the ways we fulfill our purpose to love God.

Learn More: Prayer Ministry Resources


To Pray or Not to Pray?


As we consider the condition of the world today, how can we not pray? That should be the question for God’s people.

Bible Verses about Prayer

When we consider just even the following six verses on prayer, we should find ourselves making prayer our first response. We will turn to the Lord first before complaining or giving in to fear or despair. And, we will continue in prayer regardless of the circumstances.

Pray - Prayer Bits
Order the Prayer Bits: Small Bits But Big Truths on Prayer Devotional Guide which uses these six verses. Each of the 30 devotions contains a small bit about prayer based on one of the verses but conveys big truths that make a difference.

As you reflect on the verses, you’ll find some helpful tips about praying.

  1. Be devoted to prayer.  When devoted to prayer, things happen. Pray and then watch for what God will do.  And, be sure to thank and praise Him for it.

    “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Col. 4:2)

  2. Be willing to sacrifice in order to pray. The psalmist likens prayer to a spiritual sacrifice when he refers to it as incense. As such it rises up to heaven and fills the throne room of God.

    “May my prayer be set before you like incense.” (Ps. 141:2a)

  3. Fully trust God as you pray. If you feel safe and secure with Him, such confidence will take you beyond the rote or token prayers to spilling out your guts to God.

    “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Selah.” (Ps. 62:8)

  4. Be in a constant attitude of prayer, praying for fellow believers everywhere.  To have such a perseverance and passion in praying, you need help. Look to the Spirit of God who lives within you.

    “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.” (Eph. 6:18)

  5. Go on the offence as a prayer warrior.  You cannot be pulled in so many directions that you fail to pray. Instead, purposefully plan to pray. Prioritize it into your busy schedule.

    “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so you can pray.” (1 Pet. 4:7)

  6. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t see results.  Notice the small but encouraging word “is” in the following verse.  Your prayer “is” effective — present tense. It doesn’t say might be or will be but “is,” right now, powerful and effective.

    “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b)

In Light of These Scripture Verses, How Can We Not Pray?

As the truths in the above verse take root in our hearts and we put them into practice, we will begin to notice the following differences in our lives:

1) how we pray

We will no longer ask ourselves the question, “To pray or not to pray?” as we will see no other option. We will pray when happy or when sad, when confident or fearful, when full of faith or feeling uncertain. We will pray when faced with challenges or going through the routines of life.

2) how we process life

Even if the world around us doesn’t change as we wish it would, we’ll still be able to cope and find peace. We will gain a renewed purpose as we work in cooperation with a Sovereign and Almighty God through prayer.