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Why do you pray? Because you should? Because your life is a mess? Because you need help? Because you’re lonely? There are dozens of reasons to pray. But perhaps a better question to ask is why should you pray?
If you pray because you think you should – you are partially correct. You should pray. But you should also want to pray.
Perhaps knowing some of the reasons the Bible provides for praying will inspire you to become more faithful in prayer. Because this is one thing I know for sure: the more you pray – even if you don’t feel like it – the more you will (eventually) want to pray.
Think of it like this:
Almost everyone has heard about the ‘runner’s high’ referring to the elevated good-mood hormones that come with exercise. Well, you don’t get that runner’s high when you take your first walk around the block. But if you persist, if you’re consistent, and keep going longer and faster – you will eventually experience that runner’s high.
And once you get there, the runner’s high begins a reward cycle: you run, you feel good, so you run more, and you feel good again. You get it.
The same is true for prayer. You pray (because you should), you stick with it, eventually, you will experience the ‘pray-er’s high.’ Then you’ll pray more, get that spiritual high again, pray again, and the cycle continues.
But first, you have to start. Start praying because you know you should. Use some of these Biblical reasons to pray as motivation.
Why Should You Pray?
Although there are dozens of reasons you should pray – I’m focusing on just 5 reasons here. These are what I consider the top 5 – the most important reasons you should be praying.
Because God Wants to Bless You
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus teaches about prayer as part of the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps the most famous part of that teaching is what we call The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-15. But Jesus continues His teaching on prayer in Matthew 7:7-12. This is the well-known ‘ask, seek, knock’ passage. You’re probably familiar with it, but if not go get your Bible and look it up. I’ll wait.
Ok, now that you’ve read the passage, I want you to notice verses 9-11. Jesus asks, what father would give his son a stone instead of bread or a snake instead of a fish? Just to make sure we understand the message, He then clearly states, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”
God is just waiting for you to ask. He wants to bless you! If one passage doesn’t convince you, check out a few more: Deuteronomy 28:1-6; Ephesians 1:3; Romans 8:32; James 1:17. And perhaps my favorite, James 4:2-3 which tells us that “you do not have because you do not ask.”
God is waiting to hear from you so He can bless you. Maybe you should pray?
Because God is Moved by Prayer
I confess I don’t know how this works. But Scripture is clear. God acts in response to our prayers. This is clearly stated in 2 Samuel 24:25, “the Lord was moved by prayer.” But it is also seen throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
- Daniel’s prayer led to the restoration of Israel to the Promised Land after exile (Daniel 9).
- Jonah was saved from death because of his prayer (Jonah 2).
- Nehemiah led in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls because of his prayer (Nehemiah 1-2).
- Hezekiah’s prayer saved Israel from Assyria’s army (2 Kings 19).
- Hezekiah’s life was extended in response to his prayer (2 Kings 20).
- God rescued Peter from prison and certain execution in response to prayer from the church (Acts 12).
- Peter prayed and restored Dorcas to life (Acts 9).
- God opened the gospel to Gentiles and taught Peter a lesson because Cornelius prayed (Acts 10).
- Prison doors were opened and the Philippian jailer saved in response to prayer (Acts 16)
There are plenty more examples in the Bible of God being moved by prayer. And there are also several instances where prayer can be assumed although it is not stated plainly.
One example of implied prayer would be Revelation 1 when John states he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” when he received the Revelation. Another is in Acts 13 where it states that the church leaders were “ministering to the Lord and fasting” before the Holy Spirit called Barnabas and Paul for the first missionary journey.
God is moved by prayer – and yes, by your prayers. So why don’t you pray?
Because God Wants to Spend Time with You
That God wants you to be in close relationship with Him is evident throughout Scripture. One of the clearest statements of this truth is found in Jeremiah 29:12-13, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
The Lord gave this promise to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. But He also gave it to them in Deuteronomy 4:29, before they even entered the Promised Land. He knew they would stray from Him. And He also knew they would return. God promised to hear and answer and restore them to the land even before they turned their backs on Him (see also Isaiah 58:2).
This promise is clearly repeated in the New Testament in Hebrews 11:6. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
Jesus offered many invitations to people to come to Him. Those invitations imply that when you come, you will find Him. He is waiting for you. Check out these verses for your invitation:
- Matthew 11:28
- Matthew 19:16-22
- Matthew 22:1-10
- Luke 14:16-23
- John 6:35
- John 7:37-38
- John 14:6
Because Of Jesus’ Example
Only a small portion of Jesus’ public ministry, which lasted 3 years, is recorded in the Gospels. This means there is a lot we don’t know about what Jesus said and did while on the Earth. John even says that if all of Jesus’ actions and teachings were recorded, the world couldn’t hold all the books (John 21:25).
But that also means that the things which are recorded in Scripture are the most important. They are the ones that God wanted us to see and know. And one of those ‘things’ is Jesus’ prayer life.
Every Gospel writer included some information or example of Jesus’ prayer life.
- After spending a day healing, teaching, and feeding thousands, Jesus sent the disciples away so you could pray by Himself (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46).
- Luke tells us that as Jesus’ fame was growing and more and more people were seeking Him out for healing, He “would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16).
- Before selecting the 12 from among all those who followed Him, Jesus spent the entire night in prayer (Luke 6:12).
- Luke begins his telling of The Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36) by stating that Jesus took Peter, James, and John – His inner circle – up on the mountain to pray. We know from verse 37 that this was an overnight trip – so Jesus could have prayed all night as He did in Luke 6. What we know for sure is that while Jesus was praying, the Inner Circle was sleeping (v32). We also know that The Transfiguration happened while Jesus was praying (v29).
- John provides us with a look at the depth and intimacy of Jesus’ prayer life in John 17. This “High Priestly Prayer” was Jesus’ final intercession for His followers before His death.
- Finally, before going to the cross to die, Jesus spent hours in prayer (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46).
Obviously, prayer was important to Jesus. And if He needed to pray, how much more do you and I need to pray?
Because Of Jesus’ Teaching
Jesus set the example for prayer. But He didn’t stop there. He also taught about prayer. In Luke 11, the disciples asked Him to teach them about prayer because of the example He had set!
We can’t cover everything Jesus taught about prayer now, but here’s a taste:
- Praying for those who persecute you is not just a good idea, it is a command (Matthew 5:44).
- Jesus taught us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:6, 9; Luke 11:2).
- Meaningless, memorized, and repetitious words have no place in prayer. Instead, pray from the heart (Matthew 6:7).
- If you pray so that people will think you are super-spiritual, you already have your reward (Matthew 6:5-6).
- Praying for both spiritual and temporal needs is acceptable (Matthew 6:9-13). But always remember, Jesus also taught that the spiritual comes first (Matthew 6:33).
- God expects you to be persistent in prayer (Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-8). Remember, Daniel had to keep praying for 3 weeks because a spiritual battle was raging (Daniel 9).
- Pride has no place in prayer (Luke 18:9-14).
Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He expected them to pray. He expects the same from you.
More Reasons To Pray
If I kept going, this would become a book! So I’m going to wrap up with just a few more reasons you should pray. Why don’t you spend some time in these passages and see what the Spirit teaches you?
- God’s judgment on nations and people is often turned aside or halted because of prayer (2 Samuel 24:15-17, 25; Nehemiah 1:6; 2 Chronicles 7:13-14; Daniel 9).
- You are a soldier in a spiritual war (Acts 26:16-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:8).
- The early Church spread and grew and “upset the world” (Acts 17:6) because they were constantly in prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; 12:5; 13:2-3).
- Prayer is effective (James 5:16-18)
- God promises to answer (1 Chronicles 5:20; Mark 11:24; Luke 11:9-13; 1 John 5:14-15).
- Jesus’ death and resurrection provided a way for us to pray with boldness (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19).
Now that you know several reasons why you should pray, what are you going to do? You don’t have to do anything, of course. Ignoring what the Bible teaches about prayer is something millions of people – both believers and non-believers – do every day.
Or you can choose the God-honoring response. Pray and ask God to help you become more faithful in prayer. Ask friends or family members to become accountability partners. Search out prayer tools that you think would help you.
I’ve shared several prayer tools in the past. And I have a prayer journal that has guidelines for praying that would help you become more intentional in prayer.