Why We Need to Learn More About Prayer
Written By Reid Kapple
There’s dread in my heart and fear in my bones
And I just don’t know what to say
Maybe I’ll pray, pray
Maybe I’ll pray
I have never believed in you, no
But I’m gonna pray
Those are the lyrics of the song Pray by Sam Smith. It is an honest song that reveals something universally true of the human experience. We all pray in some way. The questions of to whom and to what end are worthy inquiries, but there is no question about if we pray.
If prayer is such an ubiquitous anthropological activity, why then is it so important for us to keep learning more about it? I don’t learn more about breathing, walking, and sleeping, so why should I concern myself with widening and deepening my understanding of prayer?
The biggest reason is because our prayers shape who we are. Just think about it. The very act of praying for something or to something is tantamount to ascribing significant worth and value to that thing. In this way our prayers reveal what we want, what we worship, and what we are becoming.
Scriptures refer to this reality as idolatry. It is in part the act of placing unwarranted value upon something in such a way that it functionally becomes a god in your life. As such, we begin to reflect that which we pray to and worship. As the psalmist declares:
The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands….
Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them. Psalm 135:15, 18
As followers of Jesus and worshipers of the one true and living God, we must take prayer very seriously. Not simply because it is a command and a means of worship, but because it is a vital pathway and practice that forms us by uniting us to the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In his book Answering God, Eugene Peterson says that “Prayers are not tools for doing or getting, but for being and becoming…. Prayers are tools that God uses to work his will in our bodies and souls.”
The reason to learn more about prayer is because we never arrive at knowing and encountering the fullness of God and His will. If you feel distant from God, discontent about who you are, or disillusionment regarding what prayer is, then you are in the right place. May we learn and lean into prayer together as we seek to behold and become more like our Lord.