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:
- Prayer Bits: Small Bits But Big Truths on Prayer Devotional Guide
- Prayer Ministry Manual
- Other Resources on Prayer