These are fair questions I’ve heard expressed by folks of all ages. In fact, I’m sure even Jesus’ disciples pondered them when they asked him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:2-4). In part, I suppose we can say, we pray because the scriptures urge us to. The bible, both Old Testament and New, are down right replete with prayers, instruction on prayer and encouragement to pray—check out the Psalms for some great prayers and Paul’s letters in the New Testament for words on how he guided the early Christians to pray.
As a pastor, I have to say praying because we should is really not what God is looking for, So why do we pray? To begin with, we pray to be in communion with God. Like any relationship, conversation and time together makes our relationship with God more powerful and meaningful. I know its hard when it seems like our prayers go off into an empty void. Trust me, keep praying! God’s answers don’t always come in the time or form we want, but my experience has taught me that prayer is powerful, and has a way of changing us from the inside out, especially when our hearts are open and we create space to listen (that takes a lot of practice!)
Creating quiet space, keeping prayers simple and honest, and trusting that they are heard leads to a deeper more meaningful prayer life. Simple put, prayer connects us on a visceral level with the divine. In like manner, when we pray for each other, we stand in solidarity with one another. When we pray for those who are hurting, facing loss, or struggling in life, the greatest gift you can give is the ministry of presence and the ministry of prayer—especially when they are so overwhelmed they find it hard to pray themselves—we walk beside them through the tender and sacred spaces of life. When we pray for our world and society, looking for peace, justice and wholeness we stand in solidarity with those most victimized by the power struggles of our time. The amazing thing is, when we pray for our neighbor, we begin to see that neighbor with kinder more understanding eyes! In the end, prayer is really all about relationship. Relationship with God and relationship with one another.
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