When we look around us, we see people of no faith seemingly doing well in their lives and not having to deal with problems that we are aware of, including those that we have to deal with and it makes us wonder, “Why do we really need to pray? Does prayer even change anything? Won’t life just happen whether we pray or not?” These are some of the questions we will attempt to answer in this article.
To understand why prayer is important, we need to go back to the first time prayer was mentioned in the scriptures. When God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we are not entirely sure what the mode of communication between God and man was. We know that in Genesis 2:16, God commanded the man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil telling him the consequence of disobeying that instruction.
The next time there was a dialogue between God and man was after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, being deceived by Satan and attempted to hide from God when they heard Him walking in the garden. The consequence of that disobedience was that man had to be driven out of the garden of Eden. The story then jumps to the birth of Cain and Abel. We know the story of how Abel’s offering was accepted by God but Cain’s own was rejected. Out of jealousy, Cain kills Abel and God calls him out.
Up till this time, you will notice that all conversations were initiated by God. It seemed that God’s plan for mankind at this time was not going to work out as expected. Abel has been killed and Cain was now cursed by God. The story however continues with Adam and Eve having another child called Seth (Genesis 4:25-26) It was at this point that the Bible actually records that “people began to call on the name of the Lord”
We are not told at this point how or why the generation of Seth began to call on the name of the Lord but there were two topical issues that would have dominated their prayers; 1) repentance from sin and 2) God fulfilling the promise of crushing the head of satan and restoring man to his original state. In the book *Institutes of Christian Religion, John Calvin says, “Just as faith is born from the gospel, so through it our hearts are trained to call upon God’s name” (III XX.21). This shows that our primary focus of prayer is asking God to do what He has promised. This is one prayer that we will continue until prayers is no longer needed. Every other prayer revolves around this one single theme.
So going back to our topical question, why is prayer important?
Firstly, I believe prayer is important because it re-aligns our hearts to the one who created us. When we pray, we focus on God and His will. The more time we spend in the place of prayer, the more understanding we have of His will. Understanding God’s will is usually the greatest area of challenge for most Christians but the only way to know His will is by prayer.
(To be continued)