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Is Prayer any use?

By Chris Browne

If we have an all powerful God and he loves us perfectly, why do we need to pray? Can we really get God to change His mind?

Here are some reasons why Christians believe that prayer is not only useful but essential.

  • · Prayer is fellowship or communion between those who pray and God. It is an intimate relationship of shared thoughts, desires and feelings. For Christian’s faith is a relationship between a person and God and prayer is an essential part of the interaction and communication within the relationship.

  • · Jesus prayed all night on occasions (Luke 6:12). He prayed earnestly and emotionally. He prayed for himself and for others. In Mark 14: 14-32 we read that he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that God might spare him the suffering that he knew lay ahead. In John's Gospel chapter 17 we read that Jesus prayed for his disciples and while he was on the cross he prayed for forgiveness for those who had ‘ forsaken him’. These are just a few examples of Jesus praying.

  • · Jesus taught his disciples to pray using what we know as the Lord's Prayer. It was a pattern for their prayer and Christians believe it is a pattern for their praying today.

  • · There is evidence in the Old Testament that God's plans are not necessarily rigid. God told Moses that he would destroy all the Israelites because they were worshipping the idol they had made. Moses pleaded with God and God changed his mind and relented. (Exodus 32: 11-13). James 5: 16-18 reminds the readers of his letter that Elijah prayed that it wouldn't rain and there was no rain for three years and six months. He then prayed for rain and it rained and the earth bore fruit again. James wrote ‘the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working’.

  • · Some people argue that God doesn't answer prayer so why pray at all. Christians will defend the value of prayer because God's plan is far to big for us to comprehend. One of the themes we discover in the writings of C. S. Lewis's is God seeing the whole picture as creator whilst we just see a tiny fraction of it. He says that we have no chance of seeing how wonderful the picture really is.

  • · Prayer is a key theme in the teachings of Jesus. It is mentioned 121 times in the New Testament (NIV) and there are 367 verses about prayer in the Bible (NIV). This does not include other variations of the word prayer such as ‘asking God'.

  • · The Bible tells us that God knows more about us and who we are than we do. The first 6 verses of Psalm 139 are a good example of this. They tell us that David believed that God knew him better than he knew himself. You have searched me Lord and you know me. You know me when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.' (Psalm 139: 1-2) Psalm 51 is a Psalm that reveals David seeking forgiveness for his sins. Christians commit themselves to following the teachings and example of Jesus. They promise to serve God and to love one another but inevitably they sometimes and often fail. No human being is perfect. Everyone fails on occasions. Prayer enables Christians to admit their failings and ask for forgiveness from God. It enables them to tell God that they know they have failed and where and who they have failed.

I have outlined seven reasons why prayer is not a waste of time. I am sure there are more. Ultimately prayer is at the heart of the believer’s relationship with God. Prayer is an essential part of life for Christians. It is also worth noting that it is one of a Muslim's duties to prayer five times every day. I have heard Muslims say that ‘prayer is better than sleep’.



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