This past week a friend said, ‘Why bother?’ when encouraged to pray for our country’s leadership, asking the often unspoken and unanswered question – “Will it really make a difference?”. I found myself saying, “If God says ‘pray without ceasing’ it must be for a reason.” But I understood his doubt. There are many things I have prayed for and about that have not been answered in the way or time frame I wanted them to be. But his comment also got me thinking about how many things I have seen change through prayer, and deep gratitude followed.
“Nothing of kingdom value happens outside of prayer,” says Greg Boyd, author of God at War and other excellent books, in a call to remind his Church to pray. God takes prayer seriously! And it is clear that it is part of our mandate on earth; playing our role in seeing God’s kingdom come on earth. Boyd goes on to say that ‘things hang in the balance on whether or not God’s people pray.’ God has told us we are His partner – the Bride of Christ – and that He shapes the world through prayer.
There are so many good motivations to pray, but here are just five to think about today:
1. Prayer helps us turn towards God: Often our posture changes when we turn to prayer, and moves us to face towards God and not try to figure it out on our own. When we find our heart breaking, or we are angry at injustice, or disappointed, or in crisis, prayer makes a statement about posture and turning our faces towards our all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God.
2. Jesus Prayed: And he also encouraged us to pray. Our ultimate role model, Jesus said, when you pray, say, “Our Father in heaven … ” … and we know the rest of this prayer. It covers so much about how to pray. (Matthew 6:9-13) We also see Jesus pouring out his heart to God, his Father, when in pain and suffering the night before his death.
3. Prayer strengthens our relationship: God designed us for relationship with him, and prayer strengthens that relationship. Jesuit author, Richard Leonard, says, “Prayer is making space for God to love us, for us to hear that and then, through the community of faith, to have the courage to return the compliment. It changes lives.”
4. Prayer helps us imagine: Praying creatively and with imagination of what the world could look like, can be an inspiration to keep being involved in and committed to the hard work of transforming mission. It broadens our perspective and helps us dream and act towards ‘his kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven.’
5. Prayer is Biblical: Prayer and speaking with God is a significant part of both the Old and New Testament. Nehemiah shows us how the people of God pray, as an example in the Old Testament, and Acts 4 is a great example in the New Testament. There are countless examples througout scripture of people communing with God in different ways.
With this, and more, in our hearts and minds to motivate us, let us pray …
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