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Simply Church: Prayer

This is a no brainer. Everyone knows that prayer is inseparable from church. I’m guessing they do at least. It doesn’t really make sense to be God’s people and not pray. If you think differently, I’d love to discuss that with you in the comment section below, but I’m assuming we all pretty much agree on that. I’d like to briefly discuss some reasons why I believe that prayer is important.*

When we speak to God, whether we are explaining to him why we’re frustrated, thanking him for things in our lives, asking him to move in our lives, the lives of others, and in the world, or consciously reading the beautiful words of a well constructed liturgical prayer, we are made more aware that He is there. One of the most basic beliefs in following Jesus is that God is alive in the world. It’s also one of the easiest (for me) to forget. More importantly, living in the reality of the constant presence of a loving, powerful, beautiful, and righteous Father can be very influential on how we think, feel, and live. Speaking to God and listening for His voice presupposes an awareness of His presence.

Asking God to move in the world is important because it connects us with God’s heart for the world. When we request God’s will be done in our lives or in the lives of others, we are acknowledging that in some way God’s will is not being done and that God’s desire is that things change. Praying for things to be made right unites us with God in purpose and desire. I believe that becoming unified with God in our desire for the world will increase our participation in His redemption of it. If our hearts our open, our requests for God to rectify something in the world may result in Him saying, “Okay, I’d love to. Here’s what you should do…” The more we speak to God and open ourselves to Him, the more easy it will be to discern His voice.

Prayers of gratitude can help us to be humble and joyful. When we are recognizing and thanking God for al the good He has done for us, we are recognizing our place before Him. We recognize everything good in our lives is from Him and without Him, we are, quite literally, nothing. We have not only our existence to thank Him for, but also every good thing. Appreciating His provision that we do not deserve eliminates pride. Taking time to credit God for all the good He has done and is doing can fill us with a grateful joy at the wonder of all He has given us.

There’s a reason Jesus told his followers to pray for their persecutors, not only is prayer for them what love looks like, but praying for others has a way of increasing love for them. Prayer works with enemies. I’ve found the effect to be much greater with friends. My love for people increases when I am actively praying for them. I care more about their lives and well being, I’m more engaged in conversation, I think more about their other relationships, and I’m more in tune to their subtle to communication. Because I’ve prayed for them, I’ve become deeply invested in their heart and I’m more active in looking after that investment (selfish selflessness?).

Not only can the loving act of prayer increase our love for each other, but praying together brings us closer together. Our focus shifts off ourselves and each other, and we are united in our asking, knocking, and seeking. Looking to God with one another provides perspective for our relationships. It’s amazing how little theological differences seem to matter when you are holding someone’s hand and together are thanking God for His provision and asking Him for His kingdom to come. Praying together provides a shared experience of God which reminds us of His image in one another and keeps us focused on why we are in community in the first place.

The primary reason to pray is that it’s effective. Prayer is not merely uttering some syllables that an omnipresent God inevitably hears. Prayer does things. When we thank God, we are actually doing something: expressing gratitude. When we speak words of praise to God, we aren’t just saying things, we are worshipping Him. When we ask God to do something, it’s not as if God just hears the request and is going to do whatever He’s going to do regardless of what we ask of Him. Our voiced supplications mean something to Him and have an impact on how, where, and when He chooses to move in the world.

Why do you think prayer is important for the church?
* Perhaps a series is in the future.

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Categories: Simply Church
  1. April 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    “The more we speak to God and open ourselves to Him, the more easy it will be to discern His voice.”

    Giving and receiving helps understanding. I can affirm that.

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