I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked, “Why do we need to pray if God already has a plan?” This is a question that has been asked for centuries and will likely continue to be asked until the end of time.
One thing is for certain; the plan of God is an elusive concept for many of us. Yet, it doesn’t deter us from trying to figure out how what He’s asked us to do – pray – connects to His plan – will. As a result, there are many questions that Christians frequently ask about prayer. Today, I want to explore these frequently asked questions and ultimately provide you with the reason why we need to pray, even if God does already have a plan in place.
Why is it so hard to pray?
I’m all about being honest and that’s exactly how we’re going to start things off. The main reason why most Christians question why we need to pray is because they struggle with it. If this is you, there’s no reason to feel ashamed because I’m right in the same boat with you. I admit it to you and the world: My name is Yahnathan and I struggle with prayer.
My Struggles with Prayer
Believe it or not, prayer has been a struggle for me long before I was old enough to understand what it was or how to do it. I’m not going to take you all the way back to when I was sucking on my thumb and wearing footie pajamas, but I do want to share a little about my prayer journey from when I was a teenager until now.
When I was in my teens I did not pray. I had absolutely no prayer life and to be completely honest, the only time I prayed during this time of my life was when I was in trouble or during the mandatory family prayer before dinner on the holidays.
It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I finally started to take my spiritual development seriously. As my relationship with God developed, I began to realize that prayer isn’t something that just happens on a whim, but we must be intentional about it.
In my 30s, I went into hyper drive trying to find, read and consume as much information as I could about prayer. Unfortunately, no matter how many books I read – and I read A LOT of them – I still found it hard to pray. Believe it or not, the more books I read on prayer the more confused I became.
What Really is the Best Approach to Prayer?
I don’t know how many books on prayer you’ve read; but I’m sure if you’ve read more than one book on prayer, by different authors, that you were likely presented with different methods to approach prayer. In my experience, the approaches to prayer are either simple or complex. For example, the most common simple approach to prayer is to just talk to God like you talk to other people. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. The complex approaches typically provide a list of steps we must take to get to a certain level in prayer or into the presence of God.
Now let me be clear, I am not bashing or trying to say that these methods don’t work. The point I’m making is that all these different approaches, whether they work effectively or not, can be confusing to someone like me who struggles with prayer and wants to learn how to get consistent with it. It seemed like no matter how I prayed I wasn’t doing it the right way.
I don’t know if you can relate to my experience from reading different prayer books, but I’m sure you can relate to how confusing prayer can get when we ask other people how they pray. The moment they start to share, we instantly start comparing our prayer method to theirs and usually come to the conclusion that we’re not doing enough or we’re doing too much when we pray.
The Key to Improving Your Prayer Life
There are so many different things that can lead to prayer being hard for us. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to remain that way. Even though I still struggle with prayer and I’m far from being a prayer warrior, I’ve learned valuable information over the past few years that has positively transformed my prayer life and has reduced my difficulty with prayer substantially.
I’ll share with you some of the practical things I’ve implemented to improve my prayer life in detail as we proceed, but for now I want to share with you the key principle I discovered. What I discovered is that when we genuinely desire and pursue a lifestyle of pray, God will direct our steps in a progressive, authentic and intentional manner. He will bring the right people and resources into our lives to help us improve too. The key is for us to commit to being intentional about improving our prayer life. It’s only when we do our part that God will come alongside us and provide the assistance that we need most.
Additionally, a spiritual mentor of mine said something that has stuck with me to this day and has helped me to better understand why reading so many prayer books never produced the results I was hoping for in my prayer life. He said, “Prayer isn’t real to you until you witness it work in your life”.
When I first heard him say that it immediately made sense to me! I had tons of information about prayer, but I didn’t have any evidence of it working in my life. That definitely hindered my ability to pray consistently without feeling like I was just going through the motions or in some cases just wasting my time. I finally realized that I needed to see prayer work before I could truly understand its importance in my life.
Why Aren’t We Being Taught How to Pray?
There’s something else I’ve realized over the years that increases many of our struggles with prayer. We have a lack of leaders and mentors who are willing to teach us about prayer and demonstrate how to pray. This failure related to prayer in our homes and places of fellowship affects many us adversely, because it hinders our spiritual growth and development. My solution to this problem was to seek out spiritual mentors and ask them for their help. It was this same process that led me to examine my motive for praying.
I understand that you may not be at a place right now where you can reach out to a spiritual mentor and ask for help. That’s okay. I’m going to share more with you today that will help you begin taking steps in the right direction. Let’s start by examining why we need to pray.
Why do we need to pray?
There are many different reasons why people question the need to pray. I’m not going to sugarcoat it; I’m going to keep it real. The reason most people question the need to pray is because they don’t want to pray. They’re looking for the side exit, an escape route and a way to bail on developing a consistently prayer life. This is precisely why it is so important to be honest about WHY we pray.
I told you already, I have to keep it real because it’s the only thing I know how to do. The reason many people pray is because they want to get things from God. They want a spouse; a new car; a better job; you name it. There is always something new they want God to give them or do for them. Real talk, this is selfish. But don’t think I’m being self-righteous. I’m not throwing stones at a glass house, because I’ve been in the house too. For years all I did was go to God in prayer for myself. I always “needed” Him to do something for me or give me something.
To be completely honest, I still ask God for things and there is nothing wrong with that. I repeat…there is NOTHING wrong with asking God to do something for you or to give you something. The problem arises when that is our only or primary reason for praying. I like to call this surface level prayer. And once again, this is not a bad thing…in moderation. In fact, surface level prayer is often where many of us begin communicating with God, but the objective is to grow and reach a deeper level of prayer where our hearts are in the right place when we approach God and enter His presence.
The Goal of Prayer
Our goal should be to reach the foundational level of prayer, where our focus is intently on God and our primary objective is to develop a genuine relationship with Him. The reason why we need to pray is so that we can stay connected with our Source (God) and obtain daily instructions that will aid us in making the right choices in our lives. This renewed mindset in prayer changes our focus and causes us to ask the one question that transforms both our hearts and minds: “Why does God need us to pray”?
God needs us to pray in order to build a connection that will result in a relationship that transcends religion and puts us in alignment with His will. This is the foundation and “secret place” where true intimacy with the Creator begins to grow. We need to pray, because God desires to fellowship with us and direct our paths daily. God needs us to be His hands, feet, and voice on the earth so that His kingdom can manifest. It is necessary for us to seek God every day in prayer so that we can utilize every opportunity we’re give to do His will. The heart of prayer is about connecting and developing a relationship with God and that is why we need to pray.
How to pray every day?
Grasping and accepting that we need to pray isn’t difficult for most people. The challenge doesn’t typically set in until it’s time to address the frequency of prayer. How often are we supposed to pray? When we feel like it? Once a week? Every day?
In all honesty, there is no mandate or command that dictates how often we are to pray. However, the Bible does provide us with ample suggestions that point to daily prayer being something we should consider implementing in our lives. Thankfully, there is a very effective way to make prayer easier and help us develop a consistent habit of praying daily.
Develop a Prayer Plan or Routine
I’m talking about a prayer plan or routine. A prayer plan or routine involves selecting a specific time or times each day that we will commit to communicating intimately with God in prayer. There are many benefits to developing a prayer plan or routine. Some of the most notably are its ability to provide us with direction, peace and confidence throughout each day that will bring about an atmosphere and reality of positivity in our lives.
Examples of a prayer plan or routine include: a morning prayer time when we can connect with God and praise Him first thing after waking up, midday or lunch time prayer when we can connect with God during the midpoint of our day to share the highlights or express our frustrations and bedtime prayer when we can reconnect with God to decompress after a long day and get replenished with His peace.
After most of us establish a daily prayer plan or routine, our next logical inquiry is how and what we should pray about each day. This is likely going to differ for each of us. However, I do want to provide some different examples of how you may consider praying throughout each day and some things you may consider including in your daily prayers.
Different Ways to Pray
When it comes to how you can pray, there are so many different options. Below I have listed a few that you may consider implementing in your daily prayer routine.
- Freestyle your prayers (aloud or silent)
- Write your prayers down
- Read prayers you’ve written in the past
- Read prayers from prayer books
- Record your prayers and listen to them while driving or play them while you sleep
- Listen or watch others praying and pray along with them
I had never considered some of these options until my spiritual mentor shared them with me, and it instantly made it easier for me to pray more consistently. I hope that you will give some of these methods a try and that they will benefit you the way that have me and others.
What to Say in Prayer
When it comes to what we should or can say in our prayers, once again there are many options to choose from. However, of all the options there is one that has been a game changer for my prayer life. I’m talking about praying the Scriptures.
Praying specific Scriptures, like Psalms, and including different Scriptures in my prayers is by far the most effective way that I’ve found to pray and get results. In addition to praying the scriptures, other things I often include in my prayers are requests for God to grant me wisdom and understanding daily and offering Him thanksgiving and praise for all that He has done in my life, the life of others and the world.
I will be the first to admit that everyone may not need a daily a prayer plan or routine. We are all different. Some people prefer spontaneity and others, like me, prefer and need more structure to remain consistent in our prayer lives. If you tend to struggle with praying consistently, I definitely recommend you try using a prayer plan to see if it helps you too.
Helpful Prayer Books
If you struggle with what to say when you’re praying there are many prayer books and resources that provide you with a variety of prayers that you can pray each day. I’m not ashamed to admit that the majority of my daily prayers are prayers that I recite aloud from different prayer books. I’m not really good at “freestyle” praying, so these books help me to keep praying even when I can’t think of things to pray off the top of my head. If you’re interested, I’ve provided a list of a few of my go-to daily prayer books below.
- Prayers that Bring Change by Kimberly Daniels
- Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore
- Prayers That Activate Blessings by John Eckhardt
If you enjoy audiobooks or would like to let the prayers in these books play while you’re in the car or even while you’re sleeping, you can get the Audible audiobook of these books for free today by clicking here.
Does prayer work?
We’ve addressed a number of questions that people often ask about prayer today, but there is still one question that needs to be answered. That is whether or not prayer works.
The short answer is: YES, prayer definitely works!
As my spiritual mentor says, “Prayer ALWAYS works, unless you choose not to pray.” God is faithful and He will never ask us to do something that is pointless and doesn’t produce results. Prayer is just the opposite. It is purposeful and always produces results, if we are willing to do our part and consistently engage in prayer. As the Bible says, we are to pray without ceasing. If we do, we are certain to produce results.
With that being said, I want to remind you of what my spiritual mentor said. Prayer will not become real for us until we witness it work in our lives. Unfortunately, many of us can’t quickly recount prayer working in our lives. Thankfully, there is a way to change that.
Begin Tracking Your Prayers
One of the most valuable things my spiritual mentor instructed me to do was track my prayers. I’d never even thought to do it before, but I can tell you without a doubt that it works! When we track our prayers, we write down what we prayed for, who we prayed for and when we prayed for them. Then we continue praying as usual, but we follow up with the people we are praying for to track the progress of our prayers. Eventually, people will begin to report back that what we prayed for was answered. That’s when we need to update our tracker and mark the prayer as answered. As we do that more and more, we will be increasing our evidence of prayer working in our lives. In turn, prayer will become real to us and we will be motivated to continue praying and producing more results!
To get to a point where pray is easier for us and we enjoy doing it we must find the method that works best for us. I’ve shared a few with you today and I’m sure there are many more. The key is to try different methods until you find the way that is most effective for you.
Seek Help to Overcome Your Struggles with Prayer
If you are currently struggling with prayer and want to overcome your struggles, I want to encourage you to do what I did to get the help that I needed. First, I prayed to God and admitted my struggles to Him. Second, I began to pray and ask God to send the right resources and people into my life to help me. Before I realized it, someone did come into my life and I immediately noticed how important prayer was in their life. The thought crossed my mind that they may be able to help me and it was at that moment I had to make a decision.
I could continue struggling and praying to God for help OR I could take action by reaching out to the person, acknowledging my struggle with prayer and humbly asking for help. I decided to take action! When I did, I received the help I needed and gained a spiritual mentor in the process (the one I’ve been mentioning).
I know it’s not easy to reach out to someone, admit your struggles and ask for help. There is no guarantee that they will respond or agree to help, right? However, there is also no guarantee that they will not respond and agree to help. There is only one way to find out…take action!
Once again, asking for help isn’t easy, but it’s what the Bible models for us. Consider the disciples of Yahshua (Jesus) who asked him to teach them how to pray in Luke 11:1. If they were willing to ask for help, we should be willing to ask for help with our prayer struggles too. Fight through the discomfort and take a step out of your comfort zone by following the model in the Bible: Ask for help and never be afraid to ask for help.
Prayer can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. We have resources, teachers and mentors that can help us. So seek help, try different methods and just make every effort you can to make prayer part of your life. Also, remember that prayer is a journey and perfection is never our goal. Our goal is to commit to drawing closer to our Heavenly Father each day in prayer. Only then will His will be done on the earth, as it is in Heaven.
If you enjoyed this article and want to learn even more about why we need to pray, I want to encourage you to check out a discussion I had on the 20Something & Living podcast. All you have to do is press the play button below and enjoy!