Why We Pray . . .

I grew up believing the only good prayer was a spontaneous prayer. From the way people prayed in church, it also seemed the longer the prayer the better!

I have since learned that carefully written prayers are just as good.

Short prayers are powerful, too.

Prayers comes in many different shapes and forms, but it is critical to who we are as people of faith.

Will you pray with me?

This is the third week in our intentional journey toward a deeper spiritual life. Last week, we looked at meditation.

Each day, last week, I focused on meditation in my “three minute bible studies.” I hope you found it helpful and now have a deeper understanding of that spiritual practice.

This week we will focus on prayer.

The entire Bible resonates with prayer. No single word captures the biblical presentation of prayer. No short article like this can capture the essence of prayer.

The scriptures present prayer as adoration and praise, as supplication and pleading, and as confession and thanksgiving.

We may pray standing or kneeling, with arms extended or hand folded, aloud or silent.

We may pray at regular hours with written prayers or without ceasing as if every prayer is a breath.

There is no single way to pray.

The larger question is, “Why do we pray?”

Among all the rich examples in the Scriptures that may teach us how to pray, none are as succinct as the model prayer Jesus himself gives to us in Matthew 6.7-15.

We pray because we are not alone.

From the beginning to the end of Scripture, a singular reverberating message echoes. You are not alone. God is with you on the journey.

Here, in the model prayer, Jesus reminds us that the world is the place where God works. We are a part of that work.

We pray so that God is at work in our lives and we are a part of what God is doing. We give ourselves to what God is doing.

We pray to remember others.

Many different places in scripture remind us of the way we can pray for others (Rom. 1.9-10a, Rom. 12.12, Eph. 6.18, Col. 1.19).

We also pray because we sometimes need forgiveness for what we have done. We have ignored or offended the character of God. We have lied to or hurt others.

We pray because our lives are intertwined with others.

Our soul often needs mending and prayer helps to mend us and our relationships.

We pray to give ourselves to God.

We pray because we cannot live this life by ourselves. People try it and achieve some measure of success, but we do not experience the full richness of being human without God.

“God, give us the bread we need today,” Jesus says we should pray. Put another way, God I need you to live.

“God, do not let me be tempted,” Jesus says we should pray. Put another way, God I do not make good life choices without you.

Prayer is not performance art. We do not pray to be seen or noticed. It is personal and it reflects the way we choose to live in relationship to God and others.

We pray as we breathe, so we may live.

Will you pray with me?