We also need to live righteously. Proverbs 15:8 says that "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight." God listens to our prayers if we live uprightly in Christ. This should be an encouragement to us to walk in His footsteps.
Prayer is not a thing to be sneezed at. In James 5:16-17, it says to "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Prayer does much to help others. We should pray for our fellow Christians, national leaders, and even our enemies. Why should we pray for our enemies? This verse should make it clear:
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
If we pray for our enemies, Jesus says that we will be "sons of our Father in heaven". This is a wonderful promise to us, and a reminder that we should not just pray for those who are easy to pray for. It is easy to pray for our fellow Christians; it is hard to pray for terrorists that have killed innocent people. Let me share a big passage on this.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
This should be fairly obvious, so I won't comment on this :)
Lastly, I want to point out King David. He is a great example on prayer. He was oppressed, ill-used, and a lot of his life he was running away. But he still puts his trust in God and prays. A lot of these prayers we can read in Psalms. This is also a good reason to read Psalms (read previous post), as David's prayers are a good example of a good prayer. It is a good example for us to trust wholly that God will answer our prayer, even if that means the answer "no".
God does not need our prayers. He already knows what is to pass. But please do not think that all I have said to this point was in vain. Prayer helps to change our minds and bring us closer to God; and God in His sovereignty has ordained that our prayers "avail much".
There is much more to say about prayer that I haven't already said. I hardly touched on the matter of prayer. Let me summarize what I said to this point:
- We need to pray with a right heart, otherwise we become hypocritical
- God listens to the prayer of the upright
- We need to pray for our enemies, not just those whom it is easy to pray for
- We need to trust that God will answer our prayer
- Prayer helps bring us closer to God