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The Christian Believer and Prayer

There are as many definitions as there are attitudes about prayer and what it means for the modern-day believer. In its most simplistic form, prayer is talking to God. Expanded, prayer is sharing our thoughts, desires and needs with a divine power.

As Christians, we believe that “power” to be God as expressed through a triune unity: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, we share our deepest yearnings about life with God through Jesus Christ and through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

Once we define prayer, it becomes a matter of how frequently we pray. Scripture does not set out a definitive number of times we should pray. However, we are commanded to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:16) and “…men ought to always pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Both verses point to an attitude of prayer.

We know through Scripture that Christ prayed often, alone and with his disciples. He also taught his disciples how to pray. Therefore, Christ is our model for prayer.

Many different approaches describe the African American modern experience with prayer, according to the Pew Research Center:

  • 8 in 10 blacks pray at least a few times a month

  • 78% of blacks say prayer can heal a physical illness

  • Many blacks rely more on prayer than counsel from their pastor

Prayer is the believer’s lifeline to God and is needful for spiritual warfare, spiritual growth and as a daily compass for living.


Spiritual warfare is a constant reality for believers. The number one job of the enemy is stopping the believer from being effective for God. The struggle against the believer is very real and may show up in different areas of the believer’s life. We often feel that our struggle is against the physical elements such as other people, natural disasters, and other external elements. But the Apostle Paul describes our warfare in spiritual terms:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:12

This is important because if we don’t grasp what we are fighting against, our prospects for victory are cut in half as believers. It’s also important because the above verse is a reminder that it’s not the “person” who is against us but the spiritual darkness behind that person’s actions, whether it be family, our boss or even a total stranger.


Another important component of prayer for the believer is its role in promoting spiritual growth. This is an area in which most believers fail to seek divine guidance. Spiritual growth is the believer’s blossoming in Christ; it promotes our Christlikeness in ways that filter into our relationships, our perspectives and how we treat people.

Scripture is God’s word. What we believe about God’s word molds how we will respond to life-altering events. Thus, it is important that believers pray and seek God’s guidance as we read and study Scripture. It’s important primarily because there are so many interpretations (as opposed to translations) of the Bible that may cause one to stumble spiritually. When this happens, people tend to become frustrated and leave the faith altogether. Paul senses this phenomenon taking place when he writes:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.

Colossians 1:9


The most practical aspect of prayer for modern Christians is its function as a compass for daily living. From family to job to relationships, we should seek God’s help as we make important decisions for our lives. It is our job to know when to stop and listen for direction. Prayer is such a tool for direction.

Scripture commands,

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

I Chronicles 16:11

This means that prayer should be activated in every part of our lives as believers. For me, it points to prayer as an attitude or lifestyle; one evidenced as part of a personal relationship with Christ. Our prayers should be on automatic; indeed, prayer should be the believer’s default position.

Prayer is talking to God.

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