The Importance of Prayer

One of my favourite scriptures is Philippians 4:6-7, which reads, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.

The above scripture, written by Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians in the New Testament, tells us a lot about how and why to pray. The word ‘supplication’ means “the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly”. So when we pray, Paul says we should be honest and humble. We should acknowledge the greatness of God, and recognise that as we pray He already knows everything that is going on in our hearts and in our lives; we don’t need to disguise the truth.

I heard an interesting message from the Holy Trinity Brompton vicar Nicky Gumbel recently in which he suggested there are three important components to prayer. He said we should be childlike in our prayers by remembering to say ‘please, sorry, and thank you’. If you’re not used to praying, this is an excellent way to start. You might say please in relation to your needs, sorry in relation to your sins, and thank you in relation to your gifts and blessings.

Today I was doing outreach with my church, which is where we go out onto the streets to chat to people about the gospel and about God. I met a lovely man who spoke to me about how certain events in his life had caused him to distance himself from God. He was carrying a certain amount of regret and even guilt about a situation in his life which took place many years ago. I felt prompted to pray for him, and I explained that it was precisely for situations such as his that Jesus came and died; allowing us all to be in right relationship with God if only we would have faith and ask God for forgiveness.

When I prayed for this man, I asked for God’s blessing and favour to be upon his life, and I know that God heard my prayer. I felt a real sense of God’s presence while I prayed, and I trust that God will begin to untie the knots in this man’s heart, and bring him back into right relationship with Jesus.

Jesus teaches us about how to pray. You will no doubt be familiar with The Lord’s Prayer, which can be found in the Bible in Matthew 6:9-13. This prayer varies slightly according to different translations but the version I pray (which I remember for my school days) goes like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
Forever and ever. Amen.

God doesn’t always answer prayer in the way we expect. But the very act of praying is an act of humility. And when we humble ourselves before God, acknowledging Him in all His greatness, power, and glory, He never fails to respond and to speak into our hearts and into our lives. He is working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Perhaps you have never said a prayer. Or perhaps you haven’t prayed for a long time. Perhaps you are not even sure whether there is a God, and so the idea of praying seems strange and foreign. I would urge you to humble yourself today, and take a leap of faith, and reach out to God in prayer. The treasure – and I mean spiritual treasure, not earthly treasure – of our Lord Jesus Christ is waiting.

3 comments

  1. Hello Steven!

    Thank you for a very clear and concise explanation (including of the meaning of supplication) of the importance of prayer. I freely and honestly confess to you, and your blog followers, of my difficulty in praying – not knowing if it is worthwhile, since the Trinity already knows what’s in our hearts, souls, and our minds.

    Now that you have found Christ, I feel that I can tell you some of what I understand about Christianity. Lost through the context of time, “The Lord’s Prayer,” fails to acknowledge the other Persons of the Trinity, that are co-substantial with God. Accordingly, when I say The Lord’s Prayer, I follow the Orthodox Christian style, and conclude, “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.” The Lord’s Prayer, omits the other Persons of the Trinity, and appears to be addressed to only one Person!

    That’s fine if you’re a Jehovah’s witness, but it does not bode well for a Christian who believes in the Trinity!

    Another point worth exploring is verse 11: “Give us this day our daily bread,” because ‘daily’ is a misleading translation from the Greek “epiousios,” which is literally “above the essence,” or “supersubstantial.” The expression “daily bread,” indicates not merely bread for this day, for earthly nourishment; it is the bread for the eternal day of the Kingdom of God, for the nourishment of our immortal soul. This living, supersubstantial bread, is Christ Himself!

    In The Lord’s Prayer, then, we are not asking merely for material bread for physical health, but for the spiritual bread of eternal life! This is explained more fully in John 6, verses 27 – 58, if you care to read it?

    I hope this is helpful. It’s not my intention to preach here, merely to clarify!

    Every blessing to you,

    Dinos, your brother in Christ.

    1. Dear Dinos,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful and reflective comment.

      It’s an interesting point that you make about The Lord’s Prayer not acknowledging The Trinity. It does seem as though this prayer is addressed to God the Father in the traditional version that I am familiar with. Thanks for sharing the Orthodox version, I’m sure other readers will be interested to learn about this.

      I revisited John 6:27-58 where Jesus talks about being the “bread of life”, and thank you for your helpful description regarding how the original Greek meaning of ‘daily’ has been somewhat lost in translation.

      I understand your difficulties with prayer, really I do. But I find that without prayer I feel lost, so I make it a part of my daily routine. There is something very special about that “God time”, even if (as you said) God already knows our thoughts and our hearts and what is going on in our lives.

      Blessing to you brother,

      Steven

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