Is Prayer Important?
Prayer is a big, important topic. We give four top reasons to pray.

Kaitlin Umond asks: Why is prayer important? Doesn't God always know when I need help? I need money. I pray but nothing happens. Please help.
Question about A Personal Question: Communicating with God
Motivation - Curiosity: Sincere curiosity; Trouble: Financial problems
Bible view - A religious guide - [question 11, Sunday, 03-Jul-2011]

The God of the Bible

In the past God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son.
- Hebrews 1:1 [GNB]

The God of the Bible interacts with people. He communicates with us throughout history, and He acts on our behalf in response to the communication. His motivation is not to control people, but to fellowship with them. The Bible uses intensely personal metaphors to describe intimiate communication between God and mankind. The father-child relationship appears in the Psalms (Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. [Psalms 103:13, KVJ]), and the most intimate human relationship, the husband-wife relationship, appears in Paul's description of Jesus Christ and His Church (Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her [Ephesians 5:25, KJV]).

Although God has always communicated with people, the methods used have changed over time (verse from the book of Hebrews at upper left). For the past two thousand years, since the Bible was completed, communication with God has taken two specific pathways

  • We speak to God through prayer
  • God speaks to us through the Bible

If you want to listen to God, read the Bible. If you want to talk to God, pray. The first reason prayer is important is that it is the primary method for people to build a relationship with God. With communication, relationships flourish. Without communication, relationships die. With relationships, life is enhanced. Without relationships, life is diminished.

But What to Pray For?

What to pray for? Just about everything. Consider the simplified graphic below.

Prayer, praise, and Bible reading as communication with God
Simplified diagram of God-man communication. Bible reading and prayer give us access to all finite attributes of God. We can only praise His infinite attributes. This simplified diagram was adapted from a detailed presentation of the subject by Wayne Grudem in his book on Systematic Theology.

The second reason prayer is important is that it can touch every area of our life. In his excellent dissertation on the character of God, Wayne Grudem introduces the idea of God's attributes in two broad categories: (1) incommunicable attributes, which our finite minds cannot comprehend, and (2) communicable attributes, which we can easily grasp. Bible reading and prayer give us access to the finite attributes. Each of Dr. Grudem's attributes is found in the Bible, and each attribute makes a difference in our daily lives.

For example, in her question Kaitlin asks about praying for finances. Several of God's communicable attributes apply to this important subject:

Peace - Financial woes cause a lack of peace in our lives because God-ordained order is broken. But God loves order and peace. Find out what the Bible says about peace, and pray for it specifically.

Freedom - God does what He wants to do, when He wants to do it, and He asks no one. He is completely free. Healthy finances help us to be free in a similar manner. It is perfectly in line with Bible principles to pray for financial freedom.

Righteousness - Righteousness has to do with proper standing in God's courtroom. If you get your money by stealing, you do not qualify for answered prayer. Read the Bible about righteous living and pray for God's guidance to attain it.

Will - God has a will, and He has revealed His will in the Bible. It is God's will that we work to obtain money so we can eat; practicality enters the equation at this point. Pray for work. (if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either [2 Thessalonians 3:10, NASB])

Think it Through

In the section above we relied on Wayne Grudem's outline of God's attributes to formulate some specifics of praying for finances. We used a two-step process: (1) we listened to God, (2) we talked to God. We listened to God from Dr. Grudem's biblical list of attributes, and we talked to God by formulating our prayer around what we heard. This is not a one-time occurence, but, like any inter-personal relationship, it is a continuous process.

The third reason prayer is important is that it requires us to think through life's experiences in a godly manner. A continuous, two-way conversation with God builds a strong, solid relationship, and garners the benefits of this relationship, which are many: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control [Galatians 5:22ff, NASB], to name a few.

Praying without biblical guidance is meaningless. It is like a one-way conversation, which is no conversation at all:

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
- Matthew 6:7 [NASB]

Praying for the wrong reason is also meaningless. It is like insisting on your own way in a two-way relationship:

You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. [James 4:2, NASB]

So important is a two-way conversation with God that the Bible gives us this all-encompassing command:

Pray without ceasing.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 [KJV]

Prayer is a Faith Builder

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
- 1 Peter 2:2ff [KJV]

When I became a new Christian God used prayer to build my faith. I would pray for sick people, and they would get well. I would ask for specific guidance, and it would appear at my feet. I would read the Bible, and words would leap off the page and settle in my heart. Answered prayer is a powerful method God uses to feed the faith of His children. The box at the left contains a Bible verse that applies directly to new believers.

If you are a new believer, ask God to increase your faith. That is exactly what God wants to do:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. [Hebrews 11:6, KJV]

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:44:58 GMT, unknown: 642329 ABbVr5QMpbmYo
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