Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Why I Pray

Image result for john piippo pray
(Glen Arbor, Michigan)

(From my book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God. All Scripture references are in my book.)

The beating heart of my praying life for the past forty-two years happens on Tuesday afternoons. So, this Tuesday, I will get in my car, drive seven miles to the Lake Erie shoreline, and pray. I'll be praying anywhere from two to five hours. (If you would like me to pray for you, please send me an email - I'll share the request with Linda and no one else.

Why do I do this?

Because everyone in the Bible prayed.

In the Old Testament people prayed 

Abraham prayed. “Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again…” 

Isaac prayed. “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” 

Jacob prayed. “Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper…’”

Moses prayed. Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD.

When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. 

The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

Samson prayed.

Hannah prayed.

Samuel prayed.

David prayed. “Nathan hears from God and shares this with David. Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”

Elisha prayed.

Hezekiah prayed. “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign.”

Solomon prayed. [The Dedication of the Temple] “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.”

Ezra prayed. “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”

Nehemiah prayed. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

Job prayed. “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”

Psalms – the word “prayer” is used thirty-four times in the Psalms.

Isaiah prayed.

Jeremiah prayed.

Elijah prayed.

All the prophets prayed. Jonah prayed. “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.”

Daniel prayed. “Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”

The early church prayed. 

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

And: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

And: On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.

“Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.”

Peter prayed. About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.

Paul and Silas prayed. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.

Paul prayed. “God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times…

And: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Paul counseled Jesus-followers to “Devote yourselves to prayer.”

Jesus prayed. 

Jesus was often found praying, in various contexts; e.g., in the synagogue, in lonely places, etc. Jesus spent time in solitude. “Jesus began his ministry by spending 40 days alone in solitude and prayer.”

“Before choosing the Twelve Jesus spent the entire night alone in the desert hills praying.”

“When he heard of John the Baptist’s death Jesus “withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart.””

“After feeding the 5000 he dismissed the crowd and “went up into the hills by himself” where he prayed.”

After a long night of work, “in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place.”

After healing a leper, Jesus “often withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.”

Before his time on the cross he went alone to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed.

Jesus went out as usual [as was his custom; as was his habit] to the Mount of Olives, to pray…

If the God-followers in the Old Testament prayed, if the early church prayed, if Peter prayed, if the apostle Paul prayed, and if Jesus took habitual solitary times of praying out of his own need to be in contact with the Father, should I do any less?

(Pages 254-259)