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3 common reasons that prompt us to pray


Many people feel trapped by life’s circumstances, unable to cope, thinking they can’t go on. They need someone they can talk to and count on to give them hope.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, you’ve found the One who can give you that hope. You have learned — and continue to learn every day — that nothing is impossible with God, that He can fulfill your needs (and sometimes even your dreams). In Christ, you truly do have a future and hope, and it is never too late.

One of the surest ways of receiving that hope is in prayer. It can dramatically change situations, people, and sometimes even the course of nature. Three common feelings can prompt us to pray:

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1. When things look impossible

Jehoshaphat was one of the few good kings to reign over the southern kingdom of Judah. One day, he received word that a “vast army” of Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites—much larger than the army he commanded—was marching against Judah. The odds were against him.

The Bible tells us that Jehoshaphat was “alarmed.” I should think so! But the first thing he did was turn to the Lord for guidance. As the king laid out the situation before the Lord (who already knew all about it) he prayed these words. “O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you for help” (2 Chron. 20:12, NLT).

God responded powerfully, answering the prayer of the king and his people.

When you have an “impossible” need, remember that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Talk to Him about it. He may not answer all your questions. He may or may not answer as quickly as He answered Jehoshaphat. But you will have taken your need to the only one who can truly help — the almighty Creator of the universe. What more could you need?

2. When you have a desire

Hannah was an Israelite who was unable to have children. Infertility is difficult and painful enough for women today, but in Hannah’s day, it was considered a curse. To make matters worse, Hannah’s husband had another wife who was able to have children, and she made fun of Hannah’s infertility. Hannah’s husband loved her very much, but she still longed for a little one of her own.

Hannah took her request to God: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime” (1 Sam. 1:11, NLT).

God answered Hannah’s prayer, and her child, Samuel, grew up to be a prophet who helped to heal the nation of Israel after the chaotic years under the judges.

Jesus promises that when our requests are in line with God’s will, He will hear and answer. “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:13-14, NLT).

This doesn’t necessarily mean God will give you whatever you want. The key is to discover the will and heart of God and pray accordingly. Your requests will more likely be in line with His will when you are in tune with Him — learning about Him and what He wants you to do, obeying and following Him. Then you can bring any and every request to God, trusting Him to do His will.

3. When you feel alone

The prophet Elijah is most famous for his contest with the prophets of the false god Baal on Mount Carmel. Jezebel, Israel’s wicked queen, employed hundreds of false prophets, and Elijah invited them to a contest: “Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel” (1 Kings 18:19, NLT).

Elijah prayed to God to send down fire from Heaven to show the people of Israel who was really God — and God answered.

After that, Elijah prayed that God would end a seven-year drought by bringing rain — and God answered. But then Queen Jezebel put a price on Elijah’s head, and he ran for his life. “Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord ... Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died’” (1 Kings 19:4, NLT).

His biggest complaint was that he thought he was the only worshiper of God left in the entire kingdom (which wasn’t true at all). Elijah told God his true feelings. God listened, let Elijah rest a bit, fed him, told him the truth, and then sent him back to work. Later, he brought a friend named Elisha into the prophet’s life to share his work with him.

The lives of men and women in the Bible repeatedly show us the power of prayer. We can communicate with God about any situation, at any time, in any way. He promises to hear and answer. He’s just waiting to hear from you — whatever your need.

Talk to your loving heavenly Father. He’s only a prayer away!

Greg Laurie is the Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship and the speaker at the Harvest Crusades. He is also the author of Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus: A Spiritual Biography of Rock And Roll.

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