Prayer can be confusing – why pray if God knows everything anyway? How can our prayers change things? One of my most faithful parishioners at Christ Church asked me why we pray if God already knows what would happen…if everything is already in God’s hands. I – as usual – had no answer, but asked her to tell me what she came up with in her own relationship with God. She blessed me a few days later by saying, “we pray because we are told to! That’s good enough for me!” Wow! And I learned that day that it was good enough for me too!
And indeed throughout Scripture, we are taught to pray, to talk to God, to develop a relationship of conversation with our Savior. The New Testament is especially chock full of the language of prayer. Consider choosing one of these verses to meditate on as you grow in your own understanding of prayer:
Philippians 4:4 -7
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-22
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
Acts of the Apostles 1.14:
All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (then the Spirit came down in Pentecost…being faithful in prayer leads to the Holy Spirit, which leads the disciples to go out on a mission of healing and proclamation…and it all begins with prayer!)
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
Ephesians 3: 16-19 (and Philippians, Colossians are also constantly about prayer or Paul praying…but for me, this is the best prayer to strengthen those we love in the faith…)
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
Luke 9: 1-2
Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal…
1 Corinthians 12.9:
…to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit…
1 Corinthians 12.28:
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective…