1. Prayer reorients our problems.
Especially considering the year 2020 has been for the world, an immediate benefit of prayer is that it helps us focus our attention away from the current challenges and onto the eternal realities that await us. The book of Isaiah 65:20 looks forward with anticipation to a world where:
“Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.”
By engaging in prayer, it immediately points out minds into a reality where physical matter and problems are not the only reality that exists. There is someone greater out there who is ready to listen and engage with us. This leads us to the next benefit:
2. Prayer reminds us that we are not alone.
This is a natural outflow from the previous point, but when we pray, we are reminded that we do not have to face the problems and difficulties of life alone. We can also celebrate with someone who is equally, if not more, excited for us. The prophet Jeremiah 29:11-14 describes a growing prayer life with God in the following way:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
3. Prayer holds us accountable.
It is great to know that someone is watching out for us when everything is going well. However, when we think or act in ways that we know aren't what God expects of us, prayer is an opportunity for us to begin the process of healing and restoration by reminding us that we are accountable for our thoughts and actions. Prayer reminds us that we are all sinners and in need of a Savior. Seeing that God knows our every thought and heart inclination, this is an incredibly liberating thought knowing that even our failures are an opportunity for us to grow to be the kind of people He always knew we could be.
4. Prayer helps us know God more.
In the Old Testament and in the New, many of the individuals who we consider as having a “close” relationship with God had a very open and honest prayer life with God. From Abraham or King David, Moses to the apostle Paul, and even Jesus’ prayers are filled with moments of raw emotion, argument, and even disagreement with some of the realities they face.
However, prayer was not given to us just so God could hear from us, it's primarily for you and I to get to know God better and form the habit of coming to him in an unfiltered way with our hopes and fears. As we engage with God and see the responses given, our experience and gratitude will deepen.
5. Prayer tests and grows our faith.
One practice that many have found helpful, along with prayer itself, is prayer journaling. Prayer journaling is where you list your prayers and then list how your request was answered next to your prayer. Praying about what is on your mind is helpful, but even better is to follow up with the prayer and see how God has answered our requests and petitions. When we remember that God is willing to hear and respond to us as a friend, our ability to trust and depend on Him more than ourselves will grow.
As our faith strengthens, we will be able to speak like the author of Psalm 57:1-3 where it says:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah
God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
These are five of the benefits of an ongoing prayer life. Are there any other ways where you have found prayer helpful? Share below and join us for Miami Temple’s 10 Days of Prayer from January 6-16 live on ZOOM.
We hope to see you there!