There is enough going on in the world to keep all of us on our knees in prayer. It is equally true that even in the best of times prayer is still an extremely important part of living in faith. It is the gift of direct communication with our God. Prayer reminds us that God is not far off somewhere but present with us in all times.
As important as developing disciple relationships is, as important as daily Bible reading is, as important as five minutes of quiet time is, all of them are enhanced by our time in prayer. This is precisely because prayer is our direct connection with God who loves us in Jesus Christ.
When I was still following my calling of being a pastor (actually once a pastor always a pastor) I early on realized that prayer was the best witness and the best way of bringing God into whatever situation I was encountering. I remember visiting an elderly man who was approaching the end of his life lying in a hospital bed. I had no words of wisdom for him and wondered if he would hear them anyway as he was struggling in and out of consciousness. So I held his hand and prayed with him. I do not remember what I prayed but as I walked down the hall one of the nurses came up to me and said: “I don’t know what you said to him but he is now more at peace than at any time since he was admitted.” Prayer allowed me to be an instrument of our Heavenly Father.
That incident and many more like it have served to convince me there is power in prayer even when we are being totally used by God. I believe prayer keeps our hearts open to the presence of Jesus in all our times and places. The more we pray the more likely we are to be faithful witnesses to Jesus. And we can pray in total trust knowing that even when we do not know how to pray the “Holy Spirit prays for us with sighs too deep for words. “
Prayer does not always need to be formal. Sometimes during the day I will simply say “thank you God for walking with me today.” And that too is prayer. In Scripture we are commanded to “pray without ceasing.” How do we do that? We do it by realizing that prayer is communication going on with God every single second of every single day. Sometimes it is formal or in a group. Sometimes it is us all alone with our God. Sometimes it is a simple thank you to God and sometimes it is a heartfelt plea for His help. Prayer is a gift. Use it.