Why, When, and How Should We Pray?

Pray continually.

Why Should We Pray?

God insists that we ask, not because He needs to know our situation, but because we need the spiritual discipline of asking. — Catherine Marshall

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and 

petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. — Philippians 4:6

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. — Luke 11:9-10

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. —Matthew 18:19-20

The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with Him. — Oswald Chambers

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. — Colossians 4:2

What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him? —Deuteronomy 4:7

Come near to God and He will come near to you. — James 4:8

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:16

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth. — Psalm 145:18

[We should pray] because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us. And also because God gives His grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking Him for them. —Heidelberg Catechism

How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?… I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. — Psalm 116:12, 17

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. — 1 Timothy 4:4-5

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. — Ephesians 5:19-20

Other reasons to pray

On reaching the place, [Jesus] said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” — Luke 22:40

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer. — Psalm 4:1

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil
in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. —James 5:13-16

Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do. — Jeremiah 42:3

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found. — Psalm 32:5-6

When Should We Pray?

Our whole life should be a life of prayer. We should walk in constant communion with God. There should be a constant upward looking of the soul to God. We should walk so habitually in His presence that even when we awake in the night it would be the most natural thing in the world for us to speak to Him in thanksgiving or in petition. — R. A. Torrey

All the time:

Pray continually. —1 Thessalonians 5:17

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. — Luke 18:1

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kind of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. — Ephesians 6:18

In the morning:

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. — Psalm 5:3

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. — Mark 1:35

In the afternoon:

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. — Acts 3:1

Cornelius answered: “Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me.” — Acts 10:30

Three times a day:

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. —Daniel 6:10

But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice. — Psalm 55:16-17

In the evening:

And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. — Luke 1:10

After [Jesus] had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. — Matthew 14:23

Before meals:

If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. — 1 Corinthians 10:30-31

[Jesus] told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. — Mark 8:6

Where Should We Pray?

Pray alone. Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt at night. The best way to fight against sin is to fight on our knees. — Philip Henry

In private:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. — Matthew 6:6

In bed:

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. —Psalm 63:6

At the river:

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. — Acts 16:13

On the seashore:

But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. — Acts 21:5

At the well:

Then [Abraham’s servant] prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.” — Genesis 24:12-13

In God’s house:

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. — Luke 2:36-37

On the battlefield:

On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies. — Joshua 10:12-13

Excerpted with permission from Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer by Susan Brower, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

Prayer is pressing into relationship with God, focusing on Him more, adoring Him, thanking Him, asking for our needs, and learning His rhythms that are a much easier yoke than the one we’d choose for ourselves. How are you experiencing more depth in your relationship with God through prayer? Come share with us on our blog! ~ Devotionals Daily

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