In a recent poll carried out in our church, 90% of the people questioned said that the reason why people don’t pray enough is a lack of motivation! In this article, I would like to share the nine reasons which encourage me to pray with you:
1. Praying is a pleasure and a privilege
“But as for me, it is good to be near God.” (Psalms 73:28).
Are you aware of the immense privilege that we have to be able to approach our great God, creator of the universe?
Have you ever had a meeting with an important person (a business leader, celebrity, political figure…)? You prepare carefully and the excitement increases as the moment approaches. During the meeting, you savour every moment, every word exchanged and even the silences. You then proudly and passionately tell others about the encounter.
Do we realise that God Almighty is greater than all of these important people?! And yet he allows us to draw close to him every day, at any time. He makes himself available to listen and speak to us. What a privilege!
2. During prayer, god draws Near to me
“Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). There are always four of us in prayer as we are joined by the Holy Trinity. This Trinity is always active and present: Jesus gives us access to God (Hebrews 10:19), the Spirit helps us and inspires our prayer (Romans 8:26), God listens (Psalms 116:1). What great encouragement!
3. Praying makes us see differently
“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Psalms 119:37).
“When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” (Psalms 73:13).
I rarely want to attend prayer meetings. But when I go I am happy because, during the prayer, God changes my attitude, my perspective about a certain person or problem. Praying makes us see situations and people from God’s perspective. One of the reasons why people don’t pray is that they are stubborn, narrow-minded, and refuse the insight which God wishes to give them. Praying means letting ourselves be transformed, changing! Praying is like being the marble in the hands of the sculptor, willing to be sculpted by God.
4. Prayer: A liberating power
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
What joy to be able to say everything to God in prayer, to speak to him about our worries, failures, sorrows, troubles and problems of all kinds… You have undoubtedly experienced moments of heavy-heartedness… Being able to share that with a close friend does a world of good. It comforts us, doesn’t it? Jesus promises not only to comfort us but offers us an additional bonus: “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Peter, in his epistle, explains that we can tell God everything (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus is qualified to share, understand and plead our cause with God so that we may “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Now, take a break for a moment, and, in your own words, share your worries with Jesus in prayer. You will see that he provides you with comfort and rest.
5. What matters during prayer is what god says, not how i feel
I have to admit that I rarely want to pray. Quite the opposite, I often have a sense of doubt or incredulity. Questions race around my head: “what’s the point of prayer?”, “prayer is a waste of time!”, “why does God not respond to my prayers?”… To tackle and defeat these kinds of thoughts I need to trust God’s Word, not my own feelings. God’s Word has the divine power necessary to repel and vanquish the devil, our enemy. Remember Jesus’ attitude when facing this adversary: “It is written… It is also written… It is written” (Matthew 4:4-10).
6. Praying with the word, the source of faith
It is through reading the Word of God and using it in prayer that faith flourishes because “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). This Word is full of authority (Luke 4:32; John 14:24), and full of Sprit and life (John 6:63).
Archimedes said: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world”. My mother often, quite rightly, said “The promises of God are greater than life’s problems”. I encourage you to rely on the promises of God in the Bible so that your faith, source of power in prayer, increases. I would like to propose that you read a bible passage and then spend a moment in prayer. You will see that trusting in God changes everything (read, for example: Jeremiah 29:11-13).
7. Praying opens my heart
Prayers of intercession break the circle of selfishness which limits prayer to ourselves: our little problems and immediate needs. Jesus, on several occasions, invites us to raise our eyes and open a window onto the world, just as he lamented over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39) or the hunger of the people: “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38).
Paul had a large heart. He prayed day and night for the Ephesians (Acts 20:31). The churches of Corinth, Colossus, Philippi, Rome… were on his heart and in his prayers.
My friend George Verwer (founder of ‘Opération Mobilisation’) prays for the world every day. He taught us to do the same. God has used George in an important way in his evangelisation of the world. From now on, start to pray for your neighbours, your town, your area, your country, the world. It will enlarge your heart and widen your vision.
8. Prayer is a powerful weapon
Forgetting that the devil exists is a huge mistake! God not only gives us the armour to protect us in spiritual combat but also offensive weapons to make our adversary retreat (the sword of the Spirit and prayer – see Ephesians 6:10-18). “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
An example: when Peter was in prison, the Church was earnestly praying to God for him (Acts 12:5). The result? The iron gates open by themselves and Peter is freed. Amazing! But there is another consequence: the message of the Gospel will travel to the ends of the earth: “the word of God continued to spread and flourish” (Acts 12:24).
9. Prayer causes love to abound (Philippians 1:8-9)
Be careful: the devil often works within churches through rivalries and slander… It isn’t possible to pray for someone and criticise them at the same time. So, from today, start to pray for someone in your church whom you struggle to love. You will see how you no longer see them in the same way.
My friends, after reading all these encouragements about the benefits of prayer – and it is not an exhaustive list – don’t you think that praying is exciting? So “plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated” (C.H. Spurgeon).