Prayer isn't optional for the believer in Christ. To see God's purposes accomplished, we must pray.
Since the outworking of God’s will and purpose is so vitally dependent upon prayer, we can further conclude that prayer isn’t optional for the believer in Christ. To see God’s purposes accomplished, we must pray.
Everyone must pray.
Prayer isn’t a discipline relegated to only a few people. A risk in having prayer teams (though they are important) is that some people might conclude, “That base is covered, so I don’t need to pray.” Prayer isn’t an office some believers hold to the exclusion of others. In Paul’s listing of the offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers in Ephesians 4, “pray-ers” is not in the list. Also, in Paul’s overview of ministry gifts in Romans 12, where he writes “If it [a believer’s gift] is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach” (verse 7), you will not find “if it is praying, let him pray.” Prayer is conspicuous by its absence in these lists because the underlying understanding is that Christians “should always pray” (Luke 18:1). As Paul states in 1 Timothy 2:8, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer.”
Furthermore, prayer is not to be an occasional practice. As Jesus began teaching His disciples about prayer in Matthew 6, before He gave them the Lord’s Prayer, He instructed, “When you pray, don’t do this,” “When you pray do this,” “When you pray, say this.” It was always “When you pray,” never “If you pray.”
Prayer is for everyone because it is so vitally connected to our spiritual health and well-being. Praying well provides strength to the spiritual life just as breathing well provides strength to the physical life. While a student in junior high, I contracted a serious case of bronchitis and was unable to attend school for nearly a month. It was a frightening time as I battled constant congestion and literally fought to breathe at times. If I had not appreciated it before, I quickly realized then that breathing well is a good thing. Unable to breathe well, I felt weak, helpless, and afraid. The same is true on the spiritual level. A prayerless Christian often is weak, helpless, and afraid.
Gaining victory over life-controlling issues, fears, habits, or whatever else creates bondage, requires seeking God’s help through prayer and becoming a person of prayer. There is power in prayer. There is deliverance from every kind of bondage through prayer. Forgiveness and peace come through prayer. Help with life’s decisions comes through prayer. Healing comes through prayer. Provision for life’s basic needs comes through prayer. Restored relationships with God, a spouse, children, or coworkers will come about through prayer.
Proper praying is balanced by attention to the Word of God. True, believing, Spirit-led prayer is always rooted in the Word—its teachings, doctrines, truths, promises, and principles. E. M. Bounds, in his powerful book On Prayer, states, “Prayer draws its very life from the Bible, and has no standing ground outside of the warrant of the Scriptures. Its very existence and character is dependent on revelation made by God to man in His holy Word.” That is why praying and reading Scripture should be combined in our devotional life.
If praying well gives us spiritual strength as breathing well gives us physical strength, it could be suggested that reading well in God’s Word gives us spiritual strength as eating properly gives us physical strength. We must observe both disciplines—prayer and Bible reading. They are integrally interwoven and crucial to our spiritual strength and well-being.
Prayer is vital also because it keeps us in alignment. We are prone to get out of alignment spiritually. Prayer matches our will with God’s will. God is a constant; He never moves. We do. We tend to be all over the place. However, if we pray regularly and ask forgiveness for our sins and shortcomings, and sincerely seek to know and follow God’s will, our lives will line up with His will and purpose. As humans, we have to practice this process of alignment regularly. Perhaps that is one reason why Paul admonished us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we are continually in communication with God, we will stay in alignment with His will and purpose. It’s a matter of practicing His presence—daily. When we stay in continual communion with God, we will not wander off.