"Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue.
God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part"
It is commonly understood and held that, in addition to the mind and body, we are also spiritual beings. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘inner man’. We understand the need to enter into silence through meditation and reflection. This is a time when we experience peace, harmony, and renewal of the soul. Prayer is a time when we can communicate with God and it is the ultimate form of spiritual expression and interaction.
I was brought up to understand the primary function of prayer as a time when we bring our needs and requests before God as well as to give thanks for our life’s provisions. As we grow older we experience independence and live by the sweat of our brow. This combined with other factors can often see us grow apart from God because, in our eyes, we have no real or apparent need for Him. Consequently we often turn to prayer when facing life difficulties, which is selfish. However, prayer is designed to be a normal part of our everyday lives. Here are some important highlights on the purposes and benefits of prayer:
Imago Dei – We are made in the image of God; not in the physical body but in our spirit, which is the very essence of God in us. It is through our own spirit that we communicate and link with God.
The Presence of God – In Old Testament times, God would communicate with and appear to people in ways that were spiritually and physically separate to them. This would be in the form of angels, men or clouds, and He would appear exclusively to selected people such as prophets and priests in special places like the temple of God. There are also stories of God appearing to some everyday folks in everyday places but they are few. We are privileged to now be the very temples of God in whom His spirit resides. The time of prayer allows us to enter into the very consciousness of God’s presence in our lives. This allows us to have communion with God and to have close and intimate contact with him.
Knowledge of God – In prayer we come to know God more than we can comprehend through our own intellect. Prayer enables us to hear the voice of God as we become attuned and sensitive to his guidance and direction for us through the spirit. The word of God was spiritually inspired and guided. As such we need spiritual guidance in coming to a fuller and deeper understanding of what it says.
Clarity of Purpose – The knowledge of God also comes with knowledge of His purposes and as a result our corporate and individual purpose. It is commonly known and understood that the intent and purpose of any item or product can be found with its maker and so it is with mankind that our very purpose may be found with the God of all creation.
Thankfulness and Appreciation – Prayer helps to build a thankful heart. A primary area of thanks is for the gift of life itself. Other examples include saying grace before we eat and giving thanks after we receive blessings and answers to prayers.
Cleansing and Renewal – In prayer we can bring our imperfections and transgressions before God to obtain His forgiveness and strengthening. As we pray our spirits are revived and we are re-energized to face each day.
Growth and Change – Prayer helps us to change our inner nature and to grow spiritually. Lack of prayer starves the ‘inner man’, our very essence, from tapping into its energy source, which is the presence and power of God. Just as we grow physically and mentally through life it is also intended that we grow spiritually. Our spirits grow through receiving the word of God and through prayer, worship, and reflection. The growth and change that takes place in us then enables us to affect and change situations around us.
Peace of Mind – Whilst we may take every reasonable and responsible precaution in the natural, for example while embarking on a journey, it does bring peace of mind to express a desire for and to request God’s supernatural guidance and protection. Even people who have a faithful prayer life are affected by challenges; however, prayer brings unsurpassable peace and solutions either through, among others, inspired thought or the direct move of God in changing our circumstances.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you"
When God created the Earth he declared "Let us make man in our image" (Genesis 1:26). This shows that God was in community. He enjoys being in community with us and it is in our very nature to desire to be in His community, a void that only he can fill. We should set aside time everyday to pray privately as individuals. It is also important to meet in corporate prayer with others.