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Theologian Jonathan Edwards once stated, “Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.” Simply defined, prayer is communion and cooperation with God. It is through prayer that we approach the throne of God with our praises, thanks, confessions, and requests. The Bible requests and encourages believers to be devoted to prayer (Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:8).
Since prayer is such a priority in Scripture, what are some of the benefits for the believer? Below are ten ways prayer assists a person’s spiritual journey...
1. Prayer Deepens a Person’s Faith in God
(Hebrews 11:6; Proverbs 3:5-7)
Because prayer is our communion with God, each time we approach the Lord through prayer, our faith strengthens. God promises that He hears the prayers of His people (1 John 5:14). As we see God answer our prayers with both positive and negative responses, our faith matures because we realize He is actively present in our lives. Hannah’s prayer life in 1 Samuel 1-2 illustrates personal growth through prayer.
2. Prayer Releases Anxiety
(Psa 34:4; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:6-7)
Jesus called the weak and weary to come to him for rest. When the prophet Jeremiah felt overwhelmed by his task at hand he turned to the Lord for renewal. It was through prayer that the prophet lamented, grieved, and found strength to continue his ministry. Likewise, prayer is an avenue by which we may share our heart to God and fully process everything that weighs down our spirit.
3. Prayer Deepens Fellowship with God
(Jeremiah 33:3; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13)
Through prayer, we learn the heart of our Heavenly Father. King David, known as a man after God’s own heart recorded many of his prayers to God in the Book of Psalms. Through not only our own expression of faith, but also in the times of stillness, we are able to deepen the depth of our relationship with the Lord.
4. Prayer Connects Us with Other Believers
(Luke 22:31-32; Ephesians 3:14-21; 1 John 5:15-16)
Scripture encourages us to pray with others and for others. When the early Church gathered together in fervent prayer for Peter after he was imprisoned, an angel rescued him from his chains (Acts 12). Stories continue to be told today of how God miraculously answers the faithful prayers of his people. We must never cease praying with and for our brothers and sisters in the faith; for it is through prayer that God continues to transform the world.
5. Prayer Brings Us Towards Forgiveness
(2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 John 1:9; Matthew 5:44).
Not only is confession good for the soul, but it is necessary to receive forgiveness for our sins from God. When we confess our sins to God through prayer, He forgives us of our sins and our relationship with Him is restored. Similarly, when we have a grievance with another, it is through prayer that we can find the power in Christ to forgive them. We see Jesus illustrate this forgiveness on the cross in Luke 23:34. When we turn our heart in prayer, we are able to not only repent and receive forgiveness, but offer forgiveness to others in return.
6. Prayer Helps Us Discern and Accept God’s Will
(Lamentations 3:25; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9)
When Jesus’ disciples asked him how to pray, one part of his prayer was to ask that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Through this petition, we learn the importance of discerning and accepting God’s will for our lives. By communing with God, we avail ourselves to submit to His authority. After Jesus wrestled in prayer at Gethsemane, he was ready to suffer the cross because he knew it was his cup to bear. For us, when we seek the Lord, peace comes at the knowledge of His will.
7. Prayer Helps Us Adopt an Attitude of Gratefulness
(Colossians 4:2; Hebrews 13:5)
The Bible encourages believers to approach God with an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. We are to recognize Him for who He is and what He has done for us. In doing so, we bring honor to the Lord. We also learn to adopt a positive mindset. The Apostle Paul is a testimony of someone who observed a lifestyle of gratefulness. No matter the circumstances, his contentment was based on his identity in Christ and the freedom of forgiveness. This gratefulness permeated every area of his life. When we recognize through prayer how God has worked in our lives, we begin to become more grateful in other areas of our lives as well.
8. Prayer Gives Us Wisdom
(1 Chronicles 1:10; Psalm 32:8; Jeremiah 33:3; James 1:5).
The book of James states that wisdom is a free gift to anyone who asks God. King Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom and he was the wisest man who ever lived. Yet, as we learn from Solomon, to obtain wisdom is not enough. We must then live by wisdom. When we are in continual prayer with God, we receive a perpetual flow of wisdom and guidance.
9. Prayer Helps Us Set Our Minds on God
(Jeremiah 29:13; Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:2; Philippians 3:13-14)
The more time we spend with God and focus on Him, the more it will translate into our daily lives. In a world that advocates everything that is against God, as believers, we can use prayer to remind us of all God has done for us in the past and all God has promised to do for us. The prayer of Habakkuk 3 illustrates this mindset.
10. Prayer Helps Us Combat Pride
(2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 6:1-5)
James 4:6 states that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. When we go to God in prayer, our attitude should be one of humility because we recognize the greatness of His glory and the gratefulness of our grace. In so doing, we learn to combat the pride that wells up within us. The story of the prayers of the tax collector and the Pharisee in Luke 18 shows how God honors humility. When it is tempting to place ourselves first, an active prayer life can help us have a proper perspective.
God as our Heavenly Father deeply desires for us to walk with Him. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have been given access by faith through him. Prayer is a primary tool for us to draw closer to God and understand Him better.
[written by Cortney Whiting]
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