Prayer Lesson 1: The Importance of Prayer

“Lord Teach Us to Pray” A Study in Practical Prayer[1]

One might assume that all Christians naturally understand the importance of prayer and spend time daily communing with God in this way. One would be wrong in this assumption. Many Christians spend little or no time in regular prayer. They pray at church, in crisis situations, and occasionally on religious holidays or when called upon in public, but rarely beyond that. Perhaps they don’t comprehend the importance of prayer, or perhaps they struggle with the mechanics or the form or it. For whatever reasons, believers often neglect prayer.


Note the Quote: Contemporary Christians appear to face two problems related to prayer. One is that many simply do not pray. The other is that, when they do pray, they pray badly. By no means are these problems confined to isolated instances. They are pervasive.[2]

This series of lessons is designed to encourage believers to pray rightly by examining what the Bible says about this critical spiritual discipline.

Lesson 1: The Importance of Prayer

Eph 6:18  …praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

Why is prayer so important?

  1. God commands believers to pray.
    1. Pray without giving up (Luke 18:1)
    2. Watch and pray ( Luke 21:36)
    3. Pray with supplication, watchfulness, and perseverance (Eph 6:18)
    4. Pray earnestly, vigilantly, thankfully (Col 4:2)
    5. Pray continually (1 Thes 5:17)
    6. Pray seriously and watchfully (1 Pet 4:7)
    7. God’s people pray.
      1. Jesus (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12): The words “pray” and “prayer” are used at least 25 times in connection with our Lord’s earthly ministry. Jesus continues to intercede for his people before God’s throne (Heb 7:25).
      2. Abraham (Gen 18:23f)
      3. Moses (Ex 33:11)
      4. David (Ps 17:1, 86:1)
      5. Daniel (Dan 6:10)
      6. The Apostles (Acts 6:4)
      7. Church fathers, martyrs, missionaries, pastors, theologians, teachers, etc. Virtually anyone who’s served God in any significant way has been a person of prayer.
      8. Prayer is God’s appointed means for obtaining things God would give to us.James 4:2
        1. God is not obligated to work through human prayer. He does whatever he wants. It is pure grace that God listens to our requests. He often says “no.” There is no magic “key” to persuading God to give us what we want.
        2. God hears and answers prayer according to his will (1 John 5:14). Our desire should be that God would grant our requests according to his will and for his glory. Our intent should not be to change God’s mind or overcome his reluctance to provide something we want.
        3. God grants mercy and grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16). Christians need grace and help all the time, especially in times of crisis. Unfortunately, many Christians come before the throne of grace only during such times.
        4. We can legitimately tell God our requests in prayer (Phil 4:6). God promises to give us what we need, but not everything we want. When we cast all our cares upon God in prayer (1 Pet 5:7), we enjoy the peace that “passeth all understanding” (Phil 4:8).
        5. Prayer promotes sanctification and spiritual maturity. (Luke 21:34-36)
          1. Sanctification (Ps 139:23-24; Heb 13:18)
          2. Spiritual maturity (Ps 119:18; James 1:5)
          3. Prayer empowers our work. E.g.,Eph 6:18-20;1 Thes 5:25—“pray for us”
            1. God works through prayer in the conversion of the lost.
            2. God works through prayer in the strengthening of the church.
            3. God works through prayer in virtually every aspect of Christian life and service—preaching, teaching, evangelism, discipleship, parenting, etc.

 

Quote:  Prayer will root out heresy, allay misunderstanding, sweep away jealousies and animosities, obliterate immoralities, and bring in the full tide of God’s reviving grace. In the hour of darkest portent, when the case of the church, local or universal, has seemed beyond hope, believing men and believing women have met together and cried to God and the answer has come.[3]

 

 



[1] Some of this material follows How to Pray by R.A. Torrey (Revell, 1900). Freely available at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/torrey/pray.html. Also helpful was C. Samuel Storms, Reaching God’s Ear (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1988). Other sources cited as used.

[2] Kevin Bauder, In the Nick of Time, “Teach Us To Pray.” 6 April 2012. Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis.

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