May 25, 2024

Prayer is arguably the most significant and vulnerable of the spiritual disciplines. Believers are commanded to pray to God daily and at any time, however, many Christians struggle to focus their minds and hearts long enough to spend quality time with the Lord. 

Dr. Brian Tung, professor of theology, explained that the significance of prayer can be seen all throughout Scripture. God is constantly commanding and drawing his people into intimate, prayer-driven relationships with him. 

For example, Philippians 4:6 reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (ESV). 

Dr. Tung said he believes in the significance of prayer because of how it is discussed in scripture and because he has seen and felt its power in his personal life. He claimed that his life entirely depends on his relationship and communion with God through prayer. 

“Prayer is where I wrestle with God in the midst of my struggles,” Tung said. “Prayer is where I grapple with my sinfulness and move toward repentance. Prayer is where I surrender myself to God’s will and learn to walk in His ways. If we all agree that relationships are built on communication, then prayer is the foundation of the Christian’s walk with God.”

There are various prayer methods, such as silent, aloud, personal and corporate. Each of these methods of prayer can be used as a tool in believers’ lives.  

“Having a variety of prayers in our tool belt equips us to commune with God in a variety of ways. Not only are there many ways of praying, there are many different prayers to pray [such as] thanksgiving, adoration, confession and lament,” Tung said. 

Dr. Tung encouraged students to focus on developing robust prayer lives through continued practice. 

“Just like children learn to make sounds, then form words, then string those words into sentences, we must also learn and develop in our prayer lives,” Tung said. 

Dr. Tung identifies several principles he uses in his prayer life: to pray honestly, through scripture, ceaselessly and repentantly.

Praying honestly is the first step in a genuine and fulfilling prayer life. Tung emphasized the importance of being truthful when spending time in prayer.

“Do you ever feel like you’re putting up a façade when you’re praying, especially when you’re praying with other people? This kind of prayer can easily seep into our personal lives, where we’re trying to make ourselves sound more righteous than we truly are,” Tung said. “Prayer is a place to turn our hearts toward God and allow his spirit to transform us into the likeness of Christ.”

Using Scripture in prayer is a way to digest and respond to God’s word intentionally. 

“Instead of mindlessly reading through our Bibles, what if we thoughtfully and intentionally prayed our way through Scripture? Pay attention to your emotions and responses as you read the Bible,” Tung said. “What is it stirring up within you? Bring that to God in the moment and ask him for wisdom. As I have prayed my way through Scripture, I’ve not only seen my prayer life come alive but my Bible reading as well.”

Praying ceaselessly may seem impossible to some believers, but Tung argues that we can all pray without ceasing as scripture calls. 

“Prayer doesn’t have to be reserved for a specific moment of the day. My favorite prayers are often the running conversations I have with God, where I process through whatever he’s placed on my mind. Sometimes it’s a struggle I’m going through that I need to keep surrendering to Him,” Tung shared. “Sometimes it’s a Bible verse that I’m thinking about and seeing in a new light. The beauty of prayer is that it can take place anywhere at any time because God is always ready to meet with us.”

Repentance allows God to lift the burdens of sin from our lives and continue walking in his sanctifying work for us. 

“Sometimes we don’t want to pray. And in those times, that’s when I need it the most. My turn back to God often begins with a simple line: ‘God, I don’t feel like coming to You right now. Help me to see why.’ From there, I find that my heart often moves quickly toward repentance as God brings to light the burdens I have been carrying,” Tung said. 

Jade Adams, CBU alumna in biomedical sciences, finds that she can spend time alone with God best when using prayer journaling. However, she considers it fruitful to pray in groups and out loud when alone. 

“I’ve found praying through journaling has been found to help me personally to focus my thoughts and remember to pray for specific people and their needs,” Adams shared. “Prayer walks and speaking aloud is also a method I’ve used alone but also with people.”

Adams explained that prayer is the means by which we can recognize that God is truly all we need and depend on in this life. 

“Prayer is important in the life of a believer because it’s the means to be in communication with God,” Adams said. “Calling on him in prayer throughout the day also shows me that he is in control, supplying every need and helps me to remember that I am not in control of my own life.”

For those who feel they are struggling in their prayer life, Adams explained that they ought not to put too much pleasure on themselves. She shared that prayer is meant to simply be quality time spent with God rather than a performance we must perfect. 

Tung explained that the significance of prayer can be seen all throughout Scripture. God is constantly commanding and drawing his people into intimate, prayer-driven relationships with him. 

Alyssa Wyman, freshman pre-nursing major, said that prayer is how she connects her heart with God, communicates with him and shares all the inner workings of her mind with him. 

“I can talk about my hopes, my concerns, my praises, my regrets, and the most amazing part of it all is that he listens,” Wyman said. “When we pray, we are actively going to God and showing him that we want to spend time with him. God knows our hearts better than anyone, and spending time with him in prayer is such a great way to check our own hearts and reset.”

Wyman tends to prefer praying out loud during her time alone with God. 

“One of the things I like to do is talk to God in my car out loud,” Wyman said. “At first, it definitely felt pretty silly but as I continued, I discovered how cool it is. Speaking my prayers out loud helped me articulate what I was feeling and keep focused. It made it feel so much more like a conversation with a friend. It felt natural.”

Wyman stressed the importance of a quiet, distraction-free prayer space – especially if praying can often be a struggle. 

“If you’re having trouble from where to start, I love prayer Scripture. Just taking a verse and thanking God through it or praising him,” Wyman explained. “Or even look back to the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 as a template to help you pray. Journaling your prayers is also a great way to focus and to look back on.”

Group prayer has proved a unifying experience that Wyman shares with other believers. 

“When a group of people come together to pray, it is so powerful. God works through their hearts and realigns them with him,” Wyman said. “Other believers’ prayers provide new insight for us as well. We are meant to do all of this together.”

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