Why should we pray?
God is on our side: We can bring a petition to the King of the Universe, the Creator of everything, who is more powerful than anyone, and He is for us. Also in hard times it can seem like there is no-one who understands or loves us, but God does.
God wants us to ask: Even though God knows what we want before we ask it, He will often wait till we ask to give it to us. Torrey says, “Prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things, and the great secret of all lack in our experience, in our life and in our work is neglect of prayer.”
God is our loving Father and wants to bless us! ‘If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!’ Matt 7:11
We are fighting against forces of evil: we need to pray for God’s help against them; it’s crazy to try and fight them by ourselves.
We’re promised peace if we pray: ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’ Phil 4:6,7
Prayer is powerful! I have received so many answers to prayer which were miraculous. Revivals have come about because one person has started praying fervently. Hundreds of people have been saved because someone set aside more time to pray.
God gives us strength when we wait on Him: When life doesn’t go how we expect it to, we can suddenly lose our strength, and our will to keep going - ‘But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.’ Isaiah 40:31.
It is at these times of trial that we should pray more than any other, because we need His supernatural strength.
How to pray
When you don’t know how… the Psalms are a great place to start. There are quite a few Psalms that start out as a desperate cry for help, and then by the end they are praising God, as in Psalm 22. Sometimes if I am really desperate I will turn to the psalms and just flick through them and read them out loud to God, turning them into my own prayers.
When you feel like you have done too much wrong… if you have not asked Jesus into your heart yet then this is a great time, because he wants to forgive you of all those things, but is waiting for you to ask for His forgiveness and to believe in Jesus and follow Him.
If you are a Christian but have been in sin, then it is important to know that whatever we do wrong, we can always come to God and ask for His forgiveness and He will forgive us and we can start again. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1Jn 1:9
When you feel too distressed… you can talk about it to God like you would with a friend. If my mind is under too much stress to know how to pray, I will often collapse on the couch, or the bed and just start slowly talking to God, telling Him about what is going on and what is in my mind, and asking Him all the questions that come to me. Then as I talk I gradually start to filter what I’m saying through Biblical principles, and start to make more sense out of the situation, and am able to pray more clearly.
If you want to be inspired to pray you can read George Muller’s biography, or ‘The Kneeling Christian’ or ‘How to pray’ by Torrey, or ‘Answers to Prayer’ by Finney. One book that has made me pray more than any other is ‘The Diary of Andrew Bonar’. He was such a man of prayer that I could only read a few pages before I had to stop reading and start praying!
You can find the rest of the series on when life doesn't go as you expect here:
1. Being Prepared For Trials
2. Trust that God has a Plan
3. Hold On to What You Know
5. Take Responsibility
6. Keep Pressing Toward the Goal
7. 10 Ways to Support Christians in Trouble