The importance of prayer

Worship is an essential part of a Christian’s faith. Christians worship God to thank Him for His love, ask for forgiveness for their sins and try to understand His will for them.

As part of this worship, Christians pray both privately (ie on their own) and publicly (ie in a group with one person leading the whole church in prayer).

Group prayer in church

Others use the Jesus Prayer - “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” They may chant this prayer over and over to clear their minds and achieve inner peace.

Prayer is an important way to experience God as the religious believer can communicate with Him. By bringing their problems to God, or asking for forgiveness and help, they come closer to Him.

Christians believe they can speak with God in prayer and were taught to pray by Jesus himself.

This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name …’Matthew 6:9

Christians describe prayer as a conversation with God. Prayer can be silent or said out loud. It can use set words, or a person’s own words. In prayer, Christians lift their minds and hearts to God.

There are many different kinds of prayer, including:

  • adoration – praising God for His greatness and admitting dependence on Him
  • confession – owning up to sin and asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness
  • thanksgiving – thanking God for His many blessings, eg health or children
  • petition – asking God for something, eg healing, courage or wisdom
  • intercession – asking God to help others who need it, eg the sick, poor, those suffering in war

Most Christians believe prayer deepens a person’s faith. Praying can help the believer come to a greater understanding of God’s purpose for their lives. Christians interpret the response they might get to their prayers in the following ways:

  • God answers prayers, but not always in the way the person wants. When a prayer is not answered, it may be that the person asked for something God thinks would not be good for them, or that their prayer will be answered later.
  • Sometimes Christians think that God has answered their prayers in quite spectacular ways, eg the recovery of a sick person. They may see this as a miracle.
  • For some Christians, meditation or contemplation is a way of trying to reach a higher spiritual level.

Prayer is important to Protestants because:

  • Jesus taught them to pray (the Lord’s Prayer).
  • It is following the example of Jesus who is often recorded as praying in the Bible.
  • It encourages Christians to acknowledge the goodness of God and how great He is (prayers of adoration).
  • It encourages Christians to confess and ask for forgiveness.
  • It helps Christians to remain humble as they thank God for all the things He has given them.
  • It encourages Christians to remember the needs of others rather than focusing on themselves (prayers of intercession).
  • It encourages Christians to remember that they cannot do everything themselves and they need someone greater than them (prayers of petition).
  • It unites the Church as some prayers are said together as part of the service.