PRAYER. There are few Bible subjects that elicit so much interest and curiosity. Consider seven commonly asked questions about prayer; then join us in examining the answers provided in the Bible. These articles are designed to help you to pray—to begin praying or to make your prayers more effective.
AROUND the world, in every culture and religion, people pray. They pray when alone; they pray in groups. They pray in churches, in temples, in synagogues, in mosques, at shrines. They may use prayer rugs, rosary beads, prayer wheels, icons, prayer books, or prayers written on small boards that they hang on racks.
Prayer sets humans apart from all other life on this earth. Granted, we have much in common with the animals. Like them, we need food, air, and water. Like them, we are born, we live, and we die. (Ecclesiastes 3:19) But only humans pray. Why?
Perhaps the simplest answer is that we need to. Prayer, after all, is generally seen as a way for people to reach out to the spirit realm, to something they view as holy, or sacred, and eternal. The Bible shows that we were made with an appetite for such things. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Jesus Christ once said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.”—Matthew 5:3.
A “spiritual need”—how else could one explain all those religious edifices and artifacts, all those countless hours spent in prayer? Of course, some people look to themselves or to their fellow humans to fill spiritual needs. Do you not sense, though, that humans are just too limited to help adequately? We are so frail, short-lived, shortsighted. Only someone far wiser, more powerful, more enduring than we are can give us what we need. And just what are these spiritual needs that drive us to pray?
Consider: Have you ever yearned for guidance, wisdom, or answers to questions that seem beyond the reach of human knowledge? Have you ever felt in need of comfort when wounded by a terrible loss, of guidance when faced with an agonizing decision, or of forgiveness when crushed by guilt?
According to the Bible, those are all valid reasons to pray. The Bible is the most reliable book on this subject, and it contains a record of the prayers of many faithful men and women. They prayed for comfort, for guidance, for forgiveness, and for answers to the hardest of questions.—Psalm 23:3; 71:21; Daniel 9:4, 5, 19; Habakkuk 1:3.
Such prayers, varied though they were, had something in common. The ones praying each possessed a vital key to successful prayer, one that is often lost or disregarded in today’s world. They knew to whom prayers should be directed.