If prayer is not already a regular part of your life you may be wondering if there is a specific formula for prayer, a certain time of day, or place you should pray. You may not know what exactly you can or should pray for. Maybe you're discouraged because you tried praying before and you felt nothing or your prayers were never answered. Regardless of where you are in your prayer life, I want to share what the Bible has to say about prayer, to help you better understand what you should do, and what you can expect from your prayer life.
Before you start thinking about the mechanics of your prayer life, you should consider the reason behind prayer.
What Is The Purpose Of Prayer?
The purpose of our prayer lives is to build a relationship with God and to spend time with Him. When you become friends with someone, you want to spend all of your time with them. You may have experienced this when you first became a Christian. You probably talked to God all the time. As time and life wears on you may find that you don't experience the joy you once did, and you may begin to pray less and less. At some point prayer may even feel like a burden, one that you know you should be doing, but you just can't make yourself get excited about it.
Prayer Should Never Be A Burden
God already knows everything about you. There is nothing that has happened in your life that He isn't already aware of, which means you have absolutely nothing to hide. Instead you can openly go before the Lord with your sins and ask for forgiveness. Then you can walk away knowing that He has been faithful to forgive you.
Consider this: When you are building a friendship and eventually maintaining a friendship you talk to your friends. You meet for lunch, you hang out at work or school. You enjoy being around them, and you enjoy sharing everything with them. This is the exact same way you should/can feel when you pray to God. Actually, you can take that one step further in knowing that as awesome as your friends are, at some point they will let you down and at some point they will fail you, but God never will. God will never judge you, talk about you behind your back, or grow distant. God will always be there for you, always have the answers, and always listen to you.
Prayer is more than eloquent words and bended knees. The purpose of prayer is a deepening connection to our Heavenly Father.
The purpose of prayer is to get to know God, for Him to know you! (He of course already knows everything you could possibly say to Him, but like a grandchild listening to grandpa's story for the 100th time, God loves to hear you speak because he LOVES you.) Prayer creates open lines of communication between you and God.
Excerpt from My Utmost For His Highest Devotional:
Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.
“Ask, and you will receive . . .” (John 16:24). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.