When Hudson Taylor was sailing to China to begin his missionary work, his ship was in great danger. The wind had died, and the current was carrying them toward sunken reefs which were close to islands inhabited by cannibals—so close they could see them building fires on the shore.
Everything they tried wasn’t working. In his journal Taylor recorded what happened next: The Captain said to me, “Well, we have done everything that can be done.” A thought occurred to me, and I replied, “No, there is one thing we have not done yet.” “What is that?” he queried. “Four of us on board are Christians. Let us each retire to his own cabin, and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us immediately a breeze.”
Taylor prayed briefly and then, certain that the answer was coming, went up on the deck and asked the first officer to let down the sails. “What would be the good of that?” he answered roughly. I told him we had been asking a wind from God; that it was coming immediately. Within minutes the wind did begin to blow, and it carried them safely past the reefs. (Source: The Works of J. Hudson Taylor, Hudson Taylor)
Prayer is an essential part of the Christian faith, and there are many reasons why we should pray. Here are a few of the most important reasons:
To communicate with God:
Imagine a marriage where the two partners never spoke to one another. Living side by side, but never talking with or listening to each other. How long would that relationship last? Prayer is our way of communicating with God. We can share our thoughts, feelings, and concerns with Him, and He listens to us. Prayer is a way to build a relationship with God and deepen our faith. It’s absolutely essential to your faith journey to be in communication with God. There’s no way around it.
To express gratitude:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18) Research shows that those who express gratitude regularly are happier overall, leading to lower rates of stress, anxiety and depression. We should pray to thank God for all the blessings He has given us. We can thank Him for our health, our families, our jobs, and anything else that we are grateful for. Gratitude is an important aspect of prayer because it helps us focus on the positive things in our lives.
To ask for forgiveness:
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) We all make mistakes and fall short of God’s expectations. When we pray, we can ask God for forgiveness and seek His guidance on how to make things right. Prayer is a way to acknowledge our faults and seek God’s mercy and grace.
To ask for wisdom:
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and with criticizing, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) Probably every single person reading this would say they could use more wisdom. Prayer is a way to ask God for guidance and direction in our lives. We can pray for discernment and clarity as we navigate the challenges of life. God promises to guide us if we seek Him with all our hearts.
To intercede for others:
“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23) Prayer is not just about our own needs; we should also pray for others. We can pray for our family, friends, coworkers, and even our enemies. Prayer is a way to ask God to bless and protect those we care about. The next time you’re tempted to worry about a wayward child, a frustrating spouse, or a difficult coworker, remember to stop and pray for them. Allow the Lord to do a work on their heart and bring about the kind of life change only He can bring.
Make sure you make time to pray today!