All people – regardless of their color, race, gender and religion – pray. No scientific inquiry is necessary to prove that this is so. Dr. Myles Munroe in his book “Prayer: Understanding the Purpose and the Power of Earthly License for Heavenly Interference” wrote, “Historical records show that prayer has been found in every culture, civilization and era…. Primitive tribes in every continent to complex civilization around the world have been known to practice this ancient art called prayer to some god or deity.” From prehistory down to the present time, humans’ need to be “connected” to a being higher than themselves has been quite evident and deeply ingrained in people’s cultures, both material and non-material. It seems that social structures, in totality, had been built around this innate longing.
Studies done on prehistoric Philippines show that our ancestors worshipped not only one god, Bathala, but a number of other deities like Apolaki – the god of war, Malyari – the god of strength, Sidapa – the god of death and many others . This long list of deities worshipped by prehistoric Filipinos implies that prior the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines, we were already a prayerful people. Prayer is an integral part of our heritage. It had been and still is a part of who we are as a people and as a nation, despite our divergent beliefs and religious affiliations. Did we not remove from power, through prayer, a dictator in 1986?
What is prayer? Why do we pray?
From his book “Empowered To Pray,” Dr. Woodrow Kroll wrote of prayer as “ A gift from God…. A cry from the heart.” For Christians, only prayer can satisfy that need to be with God and the hunger for His presence. Dr. Munroe also wrote “prayer is not just an activity, a ritual, or an obligation. Nor is it begging God to do what we want Him to do. It is communion with God that touches His heart.” This inexplicable desire to commune with God through prayer is a reflection of God’s original design for humans. The Book of Genesis shows us that God made Adam and Eve after “His own image and likeness,” and before sin came into the picture, they enjoyed interpersonal conversations with God. The first humans had a very intimate relationship with their Creator, they probably strolled in the garden of Eden with Him, talked to Him face-to-face, eyeball-to- eyeball! However, these changed after the fall. And since humans were fashioned after God’s likeness, there is that part in our being that seem to compel us to connect with the Divine. Hence, explains the times we feel that strong urge to get down on our knees and cry out “Abba!”
Today’s technologies have already reduced the entire world into one global village. Modern media and communication equipment are making possible conversations to and from any point in the globe with just a press of a button. What seemed a remote possibility for past generations have become a reality for today’s generation. Suddenly it seems all life on earth have to keep pace with the speed of these modern machines. Today’s people live their lives in faster paces, constantly changing the concept of time. Prayer acts like a solid pole that we can all cling to so that we do not become lost in this whirlwind of humans and machines.
There are many other reasons why we pray and why we should pray. Some of them are:
• It is the best and the cheapest stress buster. When we pray we are releasing all our worries and cares to God and trusting Him to carry the burden for us. In return for our trust, God offers us His peace.
• It strengthens our immune system. When we are relieved of worries our body becomes less acidic enhancing our immune system. Better immune system means less illness and better health.
• It delays the onset of aging. Stress is the main reason why many age prematurely. People who’s developed a good prayer life are noticeably younger looking than those who are less prayerful.
• It takes away fear. When we pray, God responds to us in many ways. Sometimes He responds through the gentle breeze of the wind. Sometimes through a kind word uttered by a friend. All these assures us that God is with us and the Bible said “If God is with us, who can come against us?” When you know God is with you to protect and shield you from harm, there is no more room for fear. God’s love drives fear away.
• It Develops intimacy with God. The more we pray, the more we get to know God. Zacharias wrote, “ A heart in close communion with God helps carry you through the pain, beyond the power of mere words.”
Though prayer has obvious benefits for people, it can also be a means to change the course of a nation, as we Filipinos have already witnessed time and again. Scholars have recorded 667 prayers done by different characters in the Bible, out of this number, there have been 454 recorded answers (Kroll, 1995). Dr. Munroe noted that “Prayer is a common denomination among all great biblical characters and thousands of believers throughout history.” He observed that the prayers of these biblical characters did not only impact their own personal lives, “but also the circumstances and situations they faced.” The power of prayer is not limited to our individual lives. The better news is that prayer also has the power to influence a nation’s political, economic and social atmosphere.
2 Chronicles 7:14 of the Bible God said “ If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and PRAY and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (NIV).”
Prayer is a gift from God. More than anything, it is a privilege given to us humans by our Creator that in time of distress, our hearts lead us to that all-powerful and all-knowing God, who in prayer reveals more of Himself. Prayer leads us to that place of peace where no anxieties and fear can ever get near. Prayer is free for all and may be availed of anytime, anywhere. It connects us to God faster than the latest gadget ever invented. All we need is a humble heart to be able to say, “Lord I cannot do it alone” then at once, beyond any human logic, heaven is moved and we are transported to God’s holy presence. The Bible says in Psalm 65:2 “ O You who hear prayer, to you all men will come.(NIV)”
Note: All italics and emphasis mine.