Prayer has always been God’s way of communicating with His people. In every age men and women have talked with God in prayer. It is the primary way that we build a relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the greatest of all the spiritual disciplines because is brings us into direct communion with the Lord.
The second question is similar, “What does prayer do?” Prayer doesn’t change God; prayer changes us. C.S. Lewis said “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” Through prayer we are changed and transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. To pray means that we must be open and willing to change. We are changed as we gain a greater awareness of Christ and learn what His will is for our lives.
Let me ask another question. If prayer is so important then we must ask ourselves this question, “why don’t we pray more?” I believe the answer is most people have never really taken the time to learn how to pray. We can be so busy studying the Bible and theology that we forget the importance of maintaining a prayer life. The danger is we will end up living in our own strength and power and not relying on God.
Prayer is first and foremost a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some people think of prayer like a business transaction or as something they have to do just like checking something off a to do list. But that isn’t really prayer at all. We should think of prayer in intimate terms like a conversation between close friends. What are some words that you think of when you think of an intimate friendship? You will probably think of words like loving, caring, warm, sincere, personal, and intimate. These are words that should be used to describe our prayer time with the Lord. Prayer should not be dry or stuffy; rather it should be warm and intimate. This lesson will focus on ways that you can develop a personal prayer life.
Dr. Winfield Bevins is founding rector of Church of the Outer Banks and Canon for Church Planting for the Diocese of the Carolinas. He is the author of several books, including Our Common Prayer and Creed.