One of the most quoted verses in the Bible about prayer is 2 Chronicles 7:14—“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Most Christians agree that our nation could use a lot of prayer. And most would also agree that they could be more devoted to prayer. Let’s use the acronym P.R.A.Y. to talk about the importance of prayer.
“P” is for PRIORITY. Unless we make prayer one of our top priorities, we will never devote ourselves to prayer the way we should. Prayer was a priority for Jesus. Mark 1:35 says, “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.” Prayer was a priority for the disciples of Jesus. They once asked Jesus, “…Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). The early church gave prayer a high priority. Acts 2:42 tells us that they devoted themselves to prayer. Since prayer was so important to Jesus, his disciples and the early church, we must also make prayer one of our top priorities. Talking to God should not be our last resort, it should be our first inclination. We must constantly be working to make prayer a top priority in our lives.
“R” can stand for RESPECT. When we approach God in prayer, we must come to him with the utmost respect. We must address the awesome Creator of the universe with the reverent fear that he demands and deserves. We read this about Isaiah’s encounter with God—“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5). I think that many people come into the presence of God far too casually. While we Christians are encouraged to approach God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), we also are cautioned to “…worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28).
Let’s say that the “A” stands for ASK. Making requests to God to act on behalf of ourselves and others is a basic part of prayer. What a great privilege we Christians have to be able to petition the Almighty God—who is also our Father in heaven!—to move in great and powerful ways! In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus teaches us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). God never gets tired of hearing our requests as long as they are in line with his will.
Which brings us to the “Y”, which stands for YOUR WILL BE DONE. When the time was drawing near for Jesus to be crucified to pay for the sins of all mankind, he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). Even though it meant facing a torturous death, Jesus accepted God’s will and prayed that his will would be done. In the model prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray in the same way—“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10). There is a constant struggle for us to align our will with the will of God so that we can pray for the things that he wants. After all, God knows better than we do what is best.
So, let’s make it a priority to pray to God with the respect that he deserves, asking him to do great and wonderful things that he wills for us.