Written by Craig Denison
Growing up in a Christian home I knew I should pray. I knew the Bible told me to pray. We would say our bed time prayers, pray before meals-- even say the occasional prayer outside of our normal rhythms. My parents, teachers and pastors planted all sorts of seeds in my life about the value of prayer. But all the "shoulds" never translated into action for me.
I always thought, "If God is God, why does he need my prayers? Isn't he just going to do whatever he wants to do anyway?"
I never can seem to do things I don't want to do for very long. It wasn't until God began to reveal to me his heart for my prayers that I actually began praying. It wasn't until I understood and experienced God's longing for my prayers that I came into a true understanding of why prayer matters...
Prayer is less about what I have to say to God, and overwhelmingly more about what he has to say to me. You see, I never knew God to be one who spoke. I never knew him to be one who could actually reveal his heart, will, grace, thoughts and emotions to me. I never knew him to be a communicative Father.
Prayer matters because it's set aside time for us to abide in God. Worshipping, reading Scripture, spending time in community and serving are all immensely valuable spiritual disciplines. But we can do each one of those things and never have a consistent, constant union-like relationship with the Father. We can check off our boxes and think we've satisfied the requirements to be a Christian without ever really talking with him or getting to know him.
It's in prayer that the word of God finds its way from our heads to our hearts. It's in prayer that the Holy Spirit can teach us, discipline us, renew us and transform us. It's in prayer that we grasp God's heart for others in a way that helps us actually love one another.
God doesn't ask us to pray because he needs us-- he asks us to pray because we need him.
May the words of Brennan Manning and E.M Bounds help you assess the posture of your own heart and spur you towards a lifestyle of abiding in God through prayer. And may your prayer life grow in response to the love of your wonderful heavenly Father.
“Is your own personal prayer life characterized by the simplicity, childlike candor, boundless trust, and easy familiarity of a little one crawling up in Daddy’s lap? An assured knowing that the daddy doesn’t care if the child falls asleep, starts playing with toys, or even starts chatting with little friends, because the daddy knows the child has essentially chosen to be with him for that moment? Is that the spirit of your interior prayer life?” Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God
“The goal of prayer is the ear of God, a goal that can only be reached by patient and continued and continuous waiting upon Him, pouring out our heart to Him and permitting Him to speak to us. Only by so doing can we expect to know Him, and as we come to know Him better we shall spend more time in His presence and find that presence a constant and ever-increasing delight.” E.M. Bounds, Purpose in Prayer