Prayer is the faith in knowing that God is listening to us when we talk to Him. Faith is the cornerstone of Christian belief with the act of prayer as a main cornerstone in that belief. Why is prayer so important, because its the open communication with God that all believers seek with Him. Prayer is so important to God that its mentioned over six hundred times in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation(according to Strong’s Concordance). In modern terms, prayer to a Christian is like text message to a teenager, open communication with God.
When should we pray? 2 Thessalonians 5:17 says,” Pray without ceasing.” How can we accomplish this in our daily lives? You don’t have to be in a special place like a church in order to pray, all you need is the desire to pray. Prayer in general comes in four ways, in secret, as a family, as a group, and in public. In secret can be while driving your car or as a passenger on a bus or even at your desk at work. All you need to do is recite it in your mind no one needs to know what your saying or doing its between you and God.. As a family, you pray with your children before meals, before they go to sleep,during home Bible times, and before any major decisions that effect the family. As a group is the most common prayer ritual, this takes place in a church setting, funeral home, or group Bible Study. Public prayer takes place some school settings, during sports events in both amateur and professional settings(when a player gets injured),or during a vigil when tragedy hits a community. Prayer can be every part of our daily lives if we want it, that’s the key we have to want it to be part of our daily lives.
On the subject of how to pray is really an individual choice, some use ritual prayers while others choose to wing it. Christianbooks.com has over 8,000 books that deal with the subject of prayer. The point being there are as many reasons and ways to pray as there are opinions on the subject of prayer. There are two main elements of most prayers, confession of a sin and to ask for guidance from God. Jesus tells us our sins are forgiven as soon as they are committed, then why confess them in prayer. A parent may know when their children are wrong but the parent would like the child to admit it, acknowledgment may lead to a nonrecurring situation. Its the same with God admittance leads to spiritual growth.
Some Christians when they do pray they become discouraged because their prayers aren’t answered in the time they think they should be or they don’t recognize they answer when its presented to them. This story is the best example of this, there was a flood in a small town and a man was stranded on the roof of his house and prayed,”Lord please save me before I drown.”, shortly after this a man rowed up to the man and told him to get in the boat, the man turned him down saying the Lord will save me. The water began to rise now it’s almost to the top and the rescue helicopter lowered a basket for the man to get in the man refused, saying the lord will save him. The man ended up drowning and went to heaven and when he saw God he asked him why he didn’t save him. The lord told him I sent you a boat and a helicopter you chose not to accept my help. The moral of this story is, when we pray for God’s help he will send it but it may be in a way we don’t recognize right away, we need to be open to all possibilities.
When it comes to a formal prayer Jesus only give one that He taught His disciples,the “Our Father”, that we all know. Reciting this prayer puts the Christians in the right mind set away from this worlds distractions. When you pray ask yourself is it something I want or is it something I need, need will overshadow want every time. Humbleness and not pride allows you to enter the Lord’s presence within the prayer. If you try to walk into the presence of God (prayer) walking like Vince McMahon strutting down the ramp approaching the wrestling ring, God is going to be less willing to listen to you, but if you approach God like a child meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time he will openly welcome your prayer. Jesus illustrates this point in the story of two men praying at the temple one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was praying,”God,I thank you that I’m not other people-greedy,unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get”. The tax collector standing far off from the Pharisee was striking his chest and not even raising his eyes to heaven saying, “God, turn Your wrath from me-a sinner!” Then Jesus tells His disciples,”I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14(HCSB). When you pray it’s like knocking on the door of heaven, if you pound on it you’ll only meet with resistance but if you knock lightly it opens wide with ease.
To put prayer in perspective you want God to hear you, to listen to your request, or to hear your sin admittance. Because you know He hears you and in time, when the time is right you’ll get your answer. It may be the one you want or you’ll get an answer that will take you down a different path. The most important thing is that God listens no matter if no one else in your life doesn’t. Remember a prayer can be as simple as a thank you and as long as you need it to be, there’s no perfect formula for prayer. All that’s needed is the need to talk to God, for God’s ears are always open.