Slideshow image

An atheist, a fatalist, and a self-seeker met at a party. Their conversation turned to why they did not pray. 

The atheist said, “There is no god, so you’re not praying to anything.”

The fatalist said, “God has already decided what he’s going to do, so you’re wasting your time.”

The self-seeker said, “I pray when I need help, or when I want something I think I need.”

Many of us may be in the group of those who believe in God and have a desire to grow in our prayer life—but we’re caught up in the busyness of life or some other distraction. 

If you don’t pray, what’s your reason?

Here are five reasons why you should pray. These are not the only reasons; there are many more. I have arranged them in order of our vowels: A-E-I-O-U. I want to encourage you to reclaim prayer.  

A for Accomplish

Luke introduces us to an old woman named Anna. He writes (Luke 2:36-38) that “she never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” 

The word “serving” translates latreuō, which may also be rendered as “worshiping.” It is noteworthy that praying is a way of serving. 

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus taught his disciples to pray “in his name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:12-14). 

In the context of the prophet Elijah, James declares that “the prayer of a righteous [person] is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).”

In short, prayer accomplishes God’s work

E for Example

A verse that impressed me many years ago is Mark 1:35: 

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

There are numerous instances of Jesus’ example in prayer (Luke 5:16; 6:12). If Jesus found prayer such a necessity, then I should find it all the more necessary. 

As I read Luke 11:1, I suspect that the example of Jesus praying prompted a disciple to ask, “Lord, teach us to pray.” 

Paul also exemplifies a life of prayer as he writes (2Timothy 1:3): 

I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

The early Christians devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42; Romans 12:12).

The example of Jesus and God-honoring people encourages us to pray.

I for Instruction

Christians are instructed and encouraged, if not commanded, to pray. 

The climax of the Sermon on the Mount is what we call the “Lord’s prayer.” There, Jesus instructs his disciples: 

  • “And when you pray …” (Matthew 6:5) – not “if you pray”
  • “This, then, is how you should pray …” (Matthew 6:9)

Paul’s letters are full of instructions to pray (Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:1). 

Paul concludes the inventory of spiritual armor with this (Ephesians 6:18): 

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 

As I read this holy text, I am struck by “all … all … always … all … .” Prayer is not only a necessary component to life in the Spirit, it is comprehensive of all situations in which we live

O for Overcoming

On the night of his arrest, Jesus went to the Garden to pray. To the disciples that accompanied him, he said “pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:39-46). 

James advises, “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray” (James 5:13a). 

And such prayer is not just for yourself. Paul reports that Epaphras “is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12). 

The well-known text of Hebrews 4:15-16 also comes to mind: 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The practice of prayer is a means by which we can overcome temptation and other challenges to godly living

U for Unforgotten

I admit I’ve stretched in using “U.” What I have in mind is how God views our prayers

Our prayers are valuable, precious, treasured … memorable to Him—thus, unforgotten. 

In a rare glimpse of Heaven’s throne room, we are overwhelmed with sensory stimuli: sight, sound, and smell. Here’s what we read (Revelation 5:8): 

… the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints

The prayers of God’s people are portrayed as golden bowls full of incense, giving off a fragrant aroma. 

One great by-product of this vision is that your prayers bring honor and pleasure to our God


It’s not likely these reasons will convince atheists, fatalists, and self-seekers to change their views on prayer. 

Perhaps, if you’re distracted, it may encourage you to be more intentional about making prayer important in your life

These are just five reasons to pray. There are many more. What can you add?

You can contact me here.

FORWARD TO the next post in this series


Photo credit: Elena Kalis on / CC BY-NC-ND

Click "yes" to receive resource-rich newsletters.

Helpful resources provided to 'living theology' subscribers.


Want to follow Jesus more closely?

Get your FREE copy of "Listening Well to Matthew."