What is the purpose of prayer? Is it a time where we list out all of the desires of our hearts? Is it time where we are called to reflect and give thanks for the good things in our lives? Or is it a time of confession, where we apologize to God for all the wrongs we have done?
Yes…. and no.
While each of those are certainly aspects inside of our prayers, there is a purpose to our prayers.
One of my favorite descriptions of prayer comes from John McArthur, “Prayer is never an attempt to bend the will of God to my desire. Prayer is to bend me to fit the will of God.”
If we are completely honest, however, a lot of our prayers are bent toward asking God to do something outside of us instead of asking Him to make a change inside of us…. That is if we take the time to pray at all.
An important aspect of God’s bending us to fit His will is deeply rooted in our relationship with Him. See, we can’t possibly understand who God is calling us to be unless we are spending time talking with and listening to Him on a level that is much deeper than our average conversation. I’m talking about the difference between impersonal and interpersonal communication.
Do you know the difference? Would you be able to identify an interpersonal conversation you have had lately?
Impersonal communication is very superficial – How’s the weather? Nice shirt. Would you like fries with that?
Interpersonal communication, however, takes a step forward in a way that deepens the relationship between those who are in the conversation.
Part of our goal in prayer is to deepen our relationship with God. If we aren’t in prayer – constant, unceasing prayer – then we are maintaining an impersonal relationship with God.
Let me use a real-world analogy to help you understand what I’m talking about here.
Imagine the teller at your bank …
Do you know what her likes/dislikes are? What’s her favorite food? What gets her excited? Would you be able to describe her in depth to someone else in a way that would make others want to get to know her too?
Now imagine your best friend…
I bet you could tell me all about her. What her favorite color is. About her family. You could tell me what she hopes to do with her life. What kind of things get her upset. I bet if I sat down with you long enough you could tell me enough about your best friend that you’d make me want to be best friends with her too.
Why can we do that with one person, but not another?
Because of the depth of our relationship.
Part of our mission as Christians is to share the love of God and draw others into a relationship with Him. How can we expect to draw people toward a deep, loving relationship with God if we too aren’t in that very same relationship?
Simply put, we can’t. And that’s why our prayer life is so vital in our walk as Christians.
Scripture stresses the importance of prayer
Paul told the people to “be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12) and then those of Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). Prayer was something that Paul knew those in the early church needed in every single step of their lives – never ending. They needed to be constantly in prayer – and so do we!
In Acts 6:3-4, not only did Paul encourage those in the early church to recognize the importance of prayer, but he wanted to highlight that they need to devote their lives as much to prayer as they did to ministering to others.
If we want the blessings of God, we must have a relationship with Him
We can see examples in both the Old and New Testaments (Jeremiah 10:21, James 4:2) that the result of a thin or non-existent prayer life is thin or non-existent blessings inside the rest of our lives.
I can’t say that every catastrophe or struggle that someone goes through is a result of not praying, but I wonder how much we suffer needlessly because we are failing to be diligent and fervent in our prayers.
So I want to encourage you today to evaluate your prayer life. Ask God to draw you closer to Him and welcome whatever it takes to shape you into the person He desires you to be. I’ll warn you, that’ll be a hard prayer to pray and the challenges will follow it – but I also promise you that if you rely on God, He will use every pebble, boulder, and mountain in your path to create a beautiful masterpiece that brings Him glory.
Take the hard road – begin on your knees – It’s worth it.
How has prayer impacted your life? Share with us in the comments below.