Many of us fall into the habit of treating God like a genie in a bottle — as if our prayers are wishes we hope he will grant. Then when we don’t get the answer we want, we get confused, upset or even angry. Finally, in our disappointment we declare that prayer doesn’t work and is a waste of time and energy!
But what if our prayers were never meant to “work”? What if our approach to prayer is all wrong? We want to help you explore what prayer is — and what it isn’t — by looking at some of the ways we treat prayer: as a quick fix, a last resort and more. And as we explore how God designed prayer and modeled it for us through Jesus, we can together understand how to better approach this conversation with a holy and loving God.
Let’s explore some answers to questions about prayer and how the Bible teaches us about the significance and role of prayer.
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Prayer is a spiritual practice of the presence of God. It is a way we become aware of and experience God’s presence and character, allowing us to become aware of our desperate need for him. It is also a means to express that need; through prayer, we meet and connect with God.
Philip Yancey once said, “If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.”
Maybe the reason our prayers don’t always work is that, at the heart of it, prayer isn’t about fixing things; it’s about a relationship. Prayer is the avenue of communication between us and God, and we need to approach it with the respect, intentionality, and commitment that he deserves. In Jesus, we find the perfect example of what it means to invest in an active, intimate relationship with God. In order for us to imitate his example, we need to understand why prayer doesn’t work the way we want it to, but rather the way God designed it to work.
Prayer isn’t about fixing things; it’s about a relationship.
Here are some reasons that the Bible gives us for praying: