Have you ever heard or thought of these statements before?

I should be in my best condition when I pray to God.

I feel disappointed whenever I’m busy and I don’t pray enough.

Praying before meals become more like mandatory prayers than thanksgiving prayers.

Perhaps these thoughts ran through your head at one point in your Christian life. I, too, was guilty of it and battled this dilemma within me.

When I was in college, I did my best to wake up early, read my Bible, and pray to God. But as soon as my day started at school, I would be too focused on my tasks that I forget to even say thanks to Him.

I even started to feel that prayer was a task, too.

What started as a delightful response to God’s goodness became a mundane task that I had to do.

As my shortcomings piled up, I felt all the more unworthy to enter His court.

Allotting at least fifteen minutes of my precious time to confess my sins and ask for His forgiveness was unacceptable in my head because I felt like I needed to do more, pray more, and find better words so that God would have mercy on me.

A prayer that was supposed to be uttered out of delight became a prayer uttered out of obligation.

I started to ask myself why I pray to God.

Is it so that He would bless me more?

Is it so He would forgive my sins?

Is it so that I can fulfill one of His commands?

I realized that prayer doesn’t root from religion but out of a devoted relationship with the Creator of all. St. Augustine said, “True, whole prayer is nothing but love.” Our daily prayer is supposed to be a reflection of a growing intimacy with our Heavenly Father.

And because we experienced this love from God, our prayers become an expression of love to Him in different ways. How should we pray?

Pray to Your Heavenly Father

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’” (Matthew 6:9)

I thank God for Jesus our Lord who reconciled us back to our Heavenly Father! Now we do not just address Him as someone big and unknown; we call to Him as our Father.

I remember the prophet Jeremiah when he was in anguish and was talking to God saying, “O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me.” (Jeremiah 20:7)

God is capable of handling our negative feelings. Remember, we pray to our Heavenly Father who fully knows us, yet fully loves us. We do not talk to a stranger or to a judge with whom we must be prim and proper at all times.

And as we start to cultivate this kind of prayer with Him, we start to trust Him more and more with our daily decisions in life. We get closer to Him because we can confide even our deepest longings. We get to experience His unfailing and never-ending love as He continually showers His blessings and forgiveness day by day.

So when exactly do we have to pray?

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. (James 5:13)

We pray in our highs and lows.

We sing praises whether or not we have reasons to be thankful for.

We pray at all times.

Pray for Others

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)

Because of our the busyness in our lives, we tend to forget to communicate with our Heavenly Father, let alone praying for others. But we can see clearly in Scriptures that God has given us the responsibility to pray for others as well.

Even Jesus exemplified this as He prayed for His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, in the midst of His own pain and suffering.

And since we already know that prayer is birthed out of His love for us and resulted in our longing to seek Him, we can’t help but extend this kind of love to others.

Praying for others doesn’t require a specific time and place.

I remember lifting up prayers of protection, comfort, and provision to every single one of the passengers in the jeepney I would ride on as I commute every day.

When you see an impatient cashier in a grocery store . . .  

When you walk past a beggar . . .

When you see students going in and out of their campuses . . .

When you see guards working the night shift . . .

In countless scenarios, we can lift up other people in prayer.

Pray with Others

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

There is a significant emphasis in the Bible for believers not just to pray for one another but also to pray with one another.

Praying with others for our condition, our nation, or our church is mostly done in a small group setup or in a corporate meeting, such as prayer meetings.

Personally, my faith has been truly stirred as I see people gathered together, praying as one to our Heavenly Father. It helps me realize that I am not alone in praying for the big concerns of this world.

And ultimately, as we pray, God is honored by our faith and dependence on Him as the one who moves on our behalf for the things we are asking Him for. Praying isn’t about us being good Christians; it is how we respond to and honor our good God.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you get to experience intimacy with God through prayer or is prayer just something you feel you need to do as a “good Christian?”
  2. How has praying for others and praying with others broadened your compassion and faith?