Weekly Devotional: What Is Prayer?

girl praying in dark room

“Pray continually.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

If you grew up in a Christian home, one of the first things your parents probably instilled in you about your faith was the importance of prayer. They probably made you close your eyes, fold your hands and bow your head, right?

But what is prayer really? Do we have to close our eyes and fold our hands? When should we pray and what should we be praying for? The Bible has a lot to say about prayer and what role it should play in the lives of Christians.

When should I pray?

Many Christians make a habit of praying before meals and maybe before bed, and while setting aside this time to talk with God is a good idea, you can pray anytime and in fact, the Bible calls us to pray all day long. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it states, “Pray continually.” But how do we do that? Praying continually does not mean you have to sit in your house on your knees praying, rather, it means that we should have a constant mindset of being in relationship with God. That means you can talk to Him anytime, whether your eyes or closed or not.

What should I pray?

In Ephesians 6:18 it says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” There are a number of things you can talk to God about. You can pray to praise God for who He is, you can pray to thank Him for something He has done, you can pray to ask God for help or you can pray to ask God to help others. Many of us go straight to our requests when we sit down to pray, but it is important that we also take time to praise God and thank Him for all He is doing. It is also important that we pray for others.

Who should I pray for?

Pray for everyone! Pray for yourself, your friends and your family, but also pray for those hurting around the world, non-Christians and even our government. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases our Savior.” We live in a broken and hurting world, and it is important to praise God for the good we see in it, as well as ask God to heal the brokenness.

Where should I pray?

You can pray anywhere. In Romans 8:26-27 it says, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows that mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Because of the Holy Spirit, we can talk directly to God anytime and anywhere. You can pray in your car, or in the shower or when you’re at the gym. God can hear us from anywhere.

Why should I pray?

Probably the most important question to answer is why we should pray. We should pray because we love God and want to be in communion with Him, but we should ultimately pray because God commands us to. Colossians 4:2 states, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” God asks us to devote ourselves to prayer because it is the best way to have a true relationship with Him.

Grand Canyon University is committed to the importance of prayer. If you would like to learn more about GCU’s Christian identity and heritage or would like to read more devotionals please visit our website and check out the GCU Blog.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.