Lately, I’ve been thinking about the benefits of being a Christian. There are so many that I hardly know where to start. I can easily write about the gifts of justification, sanctification, or adoption (and many others similar to it). But in this post, I want to keep it simple. I want to focus on a blessing that we may sometimes overlook — the blessing of the gift of prayer.
Isn’t it amazing that the God of the Bible allows his people to communicate with him through prayer?
I think sometimes we take for granted this access we have to God. But if you pause and think about the various dimensions of prayer and just how beneficial this access to God is, it will bless your soul.
The Blessing of the Gift of Prayer
When I think about prayer being a blessing, here are some things that come to mind:
We have 24/7 access to God.
There have been times when I couldn’t fall asleep because I felt restless. During these times, it’s almost impossible to cast your burdens on anyone else since they are likely asleep. And yet, even in the middle of the night when everyone else is unavailable, God is up, ready and willing to hear your prayer.
This is amazing. You might have close family, friends, mentors, and other such relationships where people are helpful to you in many ways. But they cannot always be there for you because they are not always available. But God is incessantly accessible.
The Lord doesn’t need sleep. He’s always awake. You can always go to him — at 2:00 am when your screaming baby can’t sleep, at 6:30 am when you’re anxious and scared about facing the day, at noon when the day isn’t going how you planned. This 24/7, 365 access to God we have in prayer is truly astounding.
We don’t need to use physical words when we pray.
I once led a small group with someone. I told this person I was praying for our group at work, to which the response I received was something like, “God loves cubicles prayers, too!”
It’s true: because God is omniscient (all-knowing), he can understand what you pray in your mind with 100% accuracy, every single time. Yes, using words and praying out loud is essential. Soundless prayers should not summarize the entirety of our prayer lives. But sometimes words aren’t possible, and God gets your thoughts.
We don’t need to always pray long-winded prayers.
I love this exchange between the King and Nehemiah.
The King asks: “What are you requesting?” (Nehemiah 2:4a). And this is the little line I love: “So I prayed to the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 2:4b). And then Nehemiah tells the king what he wants.
The footnote from my ESV Study Bible says: “Nehemiah had prayed a great deal, of course (Neh. 1:4), but here he quickly speaks to God (probably silently) before he answers the King.”
I’m not knocking long-winded prayers. I love praying extensively, and I find my prayer times with the Lord to be some of the best parts of my day. But there is a time and place for everything, which means sometimes your prayers should be long-winded and other times they simply will not. Sometimes, you can just say a quick prayer, move forward, and trust God with the results.
I heard a story of a Christian leader who was on a panel discussing a tough cultural topic. He was asked a hard question and didn’t know how to respond. He knocked his pen from the table to buy himself time to pray quickly and silently in his mind as he picked up his pen. He said after he prayed and picked up his pen, he felt as if the Lord gave him a response.
Who am I to doubt him? I believe these sorts of little prayers throughout the day are powerful.
Prayer changes things.
John Piper says: “Prayer causes things to happen that would not happen if you did not pray.”
As it’s been said before, God ordains all ends (the end result of everything that happens), but he also ordains the means to every end (the things that he uses to make the ends happen), and he sometimes uses your prayers to accomplish the ends.
I bring this up because it’s not talked about enough. Too often we treat prayer as something we should do only to sustain us, to give thanks, and to ask for general things. These things are good — very good. But don’t forget that God is a Father and you are his child. And as his child, you are free to pray prayers with particular specificity for things that you want to see happen. Pray big, bold, specific, prayers.
Prayer changes you.
Back to the previous one: prayer can change things. But sometimes it doesn’t. Why? It could be for a number of reasons. But it’s usually because your prayer does not align with God’s will. But that’s a good thing because God knows better.
And yet, we must recognize that while prayer does not always change your circumstances, prayer often changes you. The Lord meets with you when you pray. He sanctifies you. He changes your character and provides what you need to get through your situation, even if he does not give you exactly what you want.
We can go to other Christians for prayer.
When we take prayer requests at church or after small groups or after that one-on-one coffee meeting, we are not playing games. We’re not just going through motions. We’re not just saying Christian stuff just to be saying it. No, we ask for prayer requests because we know our God answers prayer. It is such a privilege to belong to a group of people — namely, the church — where we know we can have other brothers and sisters pray for us.
There are many aspects to prayer which are a blessing. Often, we take it for granted. But when we reflect on the gift of prayer and the many ways in which prayer is a blessing, it will help us appreciate this great gift from God.
You may also like: