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What is Prayer? A Closer Look at the Role Of Prayer.

Updated: Jan 27


woman worshipping God

Introduction


For a believer in Christ Jesus, prayer is a must, and it should be something we do daily!


The Bible says the earnest, effective prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.


What exactly is prayer, and what role does it play in our lives? What are some examples of prayer? This article will take a closer look at the role of prayer, exploring its definition and purpose to better understand why it is so important to those that profess Jesus as their Lord!


Definition of Prayer


Christian prayer is not akin to the type of magic seen in Hollywood or Disney movies. This is not an activity that involves humanistic meditation or self-reflection.


Prayer is a conversation with God, where we express our thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires to him and also listen to what he may say to us. It is a way for us to deepen our relationship with God and seek his guidance and help in our lives.


Prayer should be an important part of our lives. Jesus is our example; he prayed all throughout the Gospels. Luke 5:16 says, "And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed." And in Matthew 6:9-13, he gave us the model prayer. The lack of prayer can be detrimental to us.


Personally, prayer is my lifeblood! My prayers are interwoven in my stride, whispered when I lay down and breathe in the morning air. And the answers that I need are always coming.


James 5:16 says, "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."

Our prayers can be powerful and life-changing, not only for us but for others!


We pray to God our Father through his son, Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear in John 14:6 that we can't get to God any other way but through Jesus.


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History of Prayer


Biblical prayer has a rich and diverse history that spans thousands of years and countless cultures.


The earliest recorded prayers in the Bible date back to the book of Genesis, where we find examples of Abraham and Jacob offering prayers to God. Throughout the Old Testament, we see prayers woven into the fabric of daily life, from the heartfelt pleas of Moses to the triumphant songs of David.


In the New Testament, Jesus himself modeled prayer for his disciples and emphasized the importance of prayer in their lives. He taught them the Lord's Prayer, a simple yet profound model for approaching God that continues to be recited by Christians around the world today.


The early Christian church also placed great emphasis on prayer, both in private devotions and in public worship. The apostle Paul encouraged believers to "pray without ceasing" and to offer prayers for one another and for the world.


Prayer remains a vital part of the Christian faith, a way of drawing closer to God and seeking his will in our lives.



man praying in a church


When to Pray?


1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV) Pray without ceasing.
Luke 18:1 (NLT) One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.

Jesus is our example; he lived a life of prayer and constant communion with the Father! This should be the same for us as believers in him.


Do I have a scheduled time for prayer? Yes, I do. I pray in the mornings after waking up. But in saying that, I pray all throughout the day. I am always talking to God about something, and that is what prayer is; it is communicating with the Lord, not Elizabethan English and saying thees and thous. It is talking to God like you would anyone else.


The Bible says we should pray without ceasing, and Jesus said you should pray always. I teach people that this is a lifestyle that the Word is talking about. You should have your appointed time of prayer, but you pray in the car while driving to work, in your mind at work, cooking dinner, before going to bed, etc. We should wash our lives in prayer.


Why do we pray?


When we pray, we will develop a closer relationship with God


Jeremiah 29:12–13 (NLT) In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Isn't this ultimately what we all want? A relationship with the heavenly Father? That is what he wants with you and me. That is why he sent his son Jesus to the cross, so he could redeem us and have us as sons and daughters.


The greatest example I have heard about prayer is what would a marriage be like with no communication. I would say that marriage wouldn't last. What is any difference between having a relationship with the Lord?


We need to develop an intimate relationship with him. He is eager to do so. It's not him we are waiting on. We are waiting on ourselves. It all starts with prayer!


The best advice I can give is to have a specific time for prayer. Go into it with an expectation of hearing from God. Take your Bible, a pad of paper, and a pen with you! It may be awkward at first, but I promise you, in no time, you will have a blessed time of prayer with the Lord!


You can gain an understanding of God's loving nature.


Proverbs 8:17 (NLT) “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me.
Hebrews 4:16 (KJV) 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

When you know how much God loves you, your whole spiritual walk with him will radically change. Many see God as a god of lightning bolts, punishment, and being distant. Like he is untouchable, he has no interest in your life!


This is so far from the truth. God loves us so much! God sent his son to die on the cross for us. You may not fully understand that. It's overwhelming to consider his love for us!


When you spend time in prayer and reading his Word (his love letters to us), you will see the grace, mercy, and love for you. While praying, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God's love. Ask him to help you see and experience it!


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You can get answers to your needs.


Matthew 7:7–8 (NLT) “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Consider earthly parents and how they provide for their children. Sometimes they even go overboard. Anything their kids ask of them, they give to them. Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."


Jesus blatantly said you provide all these good gifts to your kids, but you are sinful! BUT how much MORE will Father God give you good gifts if you just ask him?


I believe prayer should be a time of fellowship with the Father. I don't want to fill my prayer time by asking for stuff. I want to meditate on his Word and hear him speak to me. Although, there are times I need to ask for things or for him to do something for me.


The Bible says you have not because you ask not! Prayer is a time for us to ask and get answers for our lives!


It gives you the strength to avoid temptation.


Mark 14:38 (NLT) Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

At any given moment, we can be tempted to sin against God. During these times, we need to be strengthened to say no and walk away.


I have tried a million times in my strength to do so, but failed every time! I have learned years ago; it is much better to put my whole life into God's hands. It does not work living a life independent of the Lord! Through him and the Holy Spirit, I am strengthened to walk free from sin. It's not worth the fight or struggle.


Jesus said for the disciples to keep WATCH and PRAY so you will not give in to temptation. Why? Because our flesh is weak, even though our spirit is screaming NO! Our flesh is saying YES!


For me, to be from strongholds and temptation in my life, the freedom didn't come until I took the time to pray about it and talk to God. I believe during these times of prayer, he gave me a master plan on how to be free!


Am I perfect today? NOPE! I most certainly am not, but I have come a long way in being victorious in my life! I encourage you to take your struggles to the Lord; he wants to hear from you and help you be free!


It aligns your will with God's will.


Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

There is nothing more frustrating than living life and feeling as if you are not flowing with the plans and purposes God has for you.


Romans says it perfectly! Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Who wouldn't want to live the perfect plan God has for you? I am raising my hand right now! For some, that may seem scary, but for me, it floods my heart with peace and hope!


To find God's will for your life, you need to renew your mind. A carnal mind does not want God's will. It wants what it wants. It feels like it can do life way better than God can, and that is so far from the truth!


Trust me, after 32 years of serving him, he has NEVER failed me! I love the life that he has laid out for me, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.


Consider these scriptures:


Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Proverbs 3:5–6 (NLT) Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

The Lord has nothing but good for you! He will give you a future that is filled with hope! You must trust in him with all your heart. The Bible says to not lean on your own understanding. Seek HIS will. He will show which path to take! This is all done in the time of prayer!



woman glorifying God in nature

You become more like Jesus.


Philippians 3:8–9 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Jesus is a primary example of what a believer in him should look like. Paul said we are to become one with him.


Years ago, my friend posted on Facebook, you can't be like Jesus while you are dancing with the devil. This is so true, and sadly, many professing Christians act nothing like Jesus. I know some will say you are judging. You can call it whatever you want, but I believe it's time we stop playing church and giving ourselves titles if we don't plan on acting the part.


I will confess, for myself, there are many times I didn't act like Jesus, and still, to this day, the Lord deals with me in certain areas. For example, I can get angry pretty quickly over the phone with customer service representatives. You can't hear or even understand them. Then they offer poor service. Every time I get lit up, the Holy Spirit deals with me right away.


We need to do better. You can read the life of Christ and see how he conducted himself. Through the Holy Spirit in prayer, allow him to make some adjustments in your life. Repent of anything you feel you didn't present yourself well as one that follows Christ. I promise you, in time, you will see the old man fall away and the new man comes forth.


Get help from the Holy Spirit while you pray.


Romans 8:26 (AMP) So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance.

There are many times a person may not know what to pray. The Holy Spirit can help us with that. There are a million prayer needs around the world at a particular moment, and the Lord can help you pray for some of those needs. It's all about being led by the Holy Spirit.


For time purposes, I don't want to get into a teaching on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. One benefit that you have by receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit is being able to pray in the spirit. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:15, "I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand."


Praying in the spirit (or in tongues) is important because there are areas you don't know what to pray about, but the Holy Spirit will help you do so. As Kenneth Hagin said in his book, "Tongues Beyond the Upper Room." Praying only one way is like trying to ride a two-wheeled bicycle with just one wheel. If you do that, I guarantee you’re going to have a problem going very far! We need both “wheels” of prayer (our natural language and praying in the spirit), so we can fulfill God’s highest and best in our lives!


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You can help others when you pray.


1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.

Literally, you can change people's lives through prayer. I will never forget when we called my mother-in-law to tell her we committed our lives to Jesus Christ. She said right away, my prayers have been answered.


By knowing this, just think of those you can pray for, not only for their salvation, but for anything else they may deal with in their lives.


The world is so famous for saying our thoughts are with you. How is this comforting? Our thoughts? That is like a black hole of thoughts going nowhere! I remember praying for people with my hand on their shoulders and crying because the Spirit of God was moving all over them! That's powerful, that's life-changing.


I encourage you to make a prayer list and put people on that list. Ensure you put your pastors and spiritual leaders on that list as well.


One final thing, the Bible says for us to pray for our enemies. Make sure you put them on that list as well.


To pray for those in authority


1 Timothy 2:2 (NLT) 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

In this politically charged environment, it's hard to find people that understand the importance of praying for public officials.


I remember years ago; people were praying for a certain president to be removed from office by using Psalm 109:8 "Let his days be few, and let another take his office." This wasn't insinuating they would leave office on their own; it was them dying. Because the next verse says, "Let their children become fatherless."


I don't think we need to be praying for people to die. We should pray for them to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ! The Bible says, "so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity."


Conclusion


Praying as a Christian holds a deep significance and importance that should not be underestimated. It is not only an act of connection with God, but an opportunity for personal growth and transformation.


Having a discipline of prayer, you will see your spiritual strength grow. New doors of possibilities and insights will open for you.


Daily prayer has transformed my life and personal relationship with God in so many ways. After 32 years of serving the Lord, it is one of the spiritual pillars of my life. I can't overlook it and shelve it when life gets busy. It is the fabric of who I am.


As Apostle Paul once said: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…” So let us remember these words as we strive to use prayer in our everyday lives.


Scriptures on Prayer


Matthew 6:9-13

James 5:16

1 Timothy 2:1

Ephesians 6:17–18

Mark 11:24

Matthew 6:9–13

1 John 5:14–15

Philippians 4:6–7

1 Thessalonians 5:16–18

Hebrews 4:16

Matthew 6:5–8


Frequently Asked Questions


If God knows everything, why even pray?


Christians believe God is all-knowing, and by praying, they can cultivate a closer relationship with him. Prayer provides access to guidance, strength, and comfort from God's divine perspective. Additionally, Christian prayer encourages faith that God can provide help in seemingly impossible situations.


What is the key to effective prayer?


To effectively pray as a Christian, it is essential to focus on connecting with God. Invoking the faith we have through our belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God. Standing on his promises in the Word of God.


Genuinely communicating with God through prayer involves humility and sincerity of heart. Disciples of Christ should strive to listen for God's guidance when praying and respond accordingly.


How should I encourage my kids to pray?


Provide your kids with a prayerful environment in which they can thrive. Model the power of prayer and let them take part in collective worship experiences. Guide them in praying intelligently by encouraging creative expression rather than rote memorization.


Make time for family prayer at home and let children lead prayers or share their stories of answered prayers. Encourage them to pray not just on special occasions but also daily, helping them understand the depth of God’s love for them and how he hears every one of their requests.


Why do we have to pray in Jesus' name?


John 14:6 states that Jesus is the only path to God, so praying in his name gives believers access to God's presence. It signifies reverence and respect for Jesus as the ultimate authority. Ultimately, using Jesus' name when praying serves as a reminder of his immense power and enduring love for all believers.


 

picture of Shawn Paul

Shawn Paul is an author and missionary who has been living and working in Central America for the past 10 years. He is passionate about living for Jesus Christ and inspiring others to do the same, which is the focus of his blog, where he shares his expertise in Christianity.


In addition to his missionary work, Shawn enjoys reading books, studying God's Word, growing plants and flowers, feeding birds, and keeping up with the latest technology.


As a writer, Shawn's unique perspective and passion for his faith shine through in his work. Shawn's goal for the future is to impact people around the world for Jesus through his writing and missionary work.

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