What Are the Benefits of Prayer?

Prayer. To some, it’s a way of life, but to others, it can be mysterious or complicated. Oftentimes, it’s referred to as a Christian discipline, which can make it sound difficult or oppressive.

However, prayer is a wonderful thing that provides many benefits. These benefits go beyond the individual praying.

In this article, we’ll define what prayer is and look at some of the benefits prayer provides.

What Is Prayer
People define prayer in various ways but the simplest way to describe it is communication with God.

There are different kinds of prayer and many ways to practice it. Benefit-producing prayer isn’t recited but is communication that comes from the heart.

Some Benefits of Prayer

  1. Prayer changes our focus. It’s easy to get caught up in the circumstances going on around us, good or bad. Praying directs our focus away from here on earth to God in heaven.

Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth (Colossians 3:2, NLT).

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith… (Hebrews 12:2).

  1. Prayer brings us closer to God. Because prayer is communicating with God, it helps us build our relationship with him. It’s one of the many ways we can get to know him better.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

  1. Prayer ushers us into God’s presence. In the Old Testament, people needed the priests or prophets to talk to God for them. But when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was torn in two, opening the way for us to talk to God ourselves.

The curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51).

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

  1. Prayer is a way to help others. There are two ways this is true. One is praying with someone and the other is praying for someone. One is done in person (or over the phone), while the other is done in your private time.

Pray for one another, that you may be healed (James 5:16).

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1:9-12, ESV).

  1. Prayer helps calm us. The world is full of things that bring anxiety into our lives and prayer can restore our peace.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (1 Peter 5:7, NLT).

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

  1. Prayer brings about change. The familiar phrase prayer changes things is true. Sometimes the things that change are circumstances, while other times we are the thing that prayer changes.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops (James 4:16-18).

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

And the List Goes On and On
The benefits of prayer can’t be exhausted. Prayer helps us find direction in life. It can prevent us from making wrong decisions and falling into sin. Through it, we can learn to submit to God’s will.

Prayer helps us receive forgiveness and love. It also helps us love our enemies as we understand how we were once God’s enemy but, through Jesus, we are friends and heirs.

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The Beautiful Gifts God Gives His Children

It’s exhilarating to know that God sets the standard for the best gifts when it comes to gift-giving. James 1:17 states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” This passage is a sweet reminder that God’s gifts are good and perfect.

Matthew 7:11 states, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” This passage indicates that just as humans give pleasant gifts, our heavenly Father provides supreme and superior gifts. So, let’s take a look at some of the amazing gifts our Father provides those whom He calls His children.

Gift #1 – Jesus
The very best gift God gives us as His children is Jesus. He was the most sacrificial gift God gave, which demonstrates His immeasurable love for us. Because of Jesus, we have access to all of the other gifts our generous, heavenly Father has to offer. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Gift #2 – Eternal Life
As stated in the previous gift, God gives us eternal life once we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The precious blood of Jesus covered all of our sins, and as a result, God mercifully gifted us with the opportunity to spend eternity with Him in heaven instead of the fiery pit of hell.

Gift #3 – Forgiveness
Forgiveness is another remarkable gift that God gives His children when we confess our sins. God does not have to do it, but He forgives us over and over. He loves us just that much. Micah 7:18-19 states, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” God not only forgives our sins, but He casts them away and no longer brings them up. What an incredible gift!

Gift #4 – Holy Spirit
Have you ever found yourself saying “something told me not to do that” or, “something told me to do that?” Well, that something is Someone. The Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Two of the many names and functions of the Holy Spirit are comforter and spirit of truth. God gave us this ever-present gift to guide, teach, and comfort us whenever we need Him. God is such a great Father that He did not leave us unaccompanied.

Gift #5 – Wisdom
Do you need clarity or direction? Are you trying to determine what the right decision to make is? God has the ideal gift for these concerns. James 1:5 states, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” God wants to hear from His children and grace them with His matchless wisdom so that you and I can be all that He has created us to be and so that He may be glorified. We certainly do not have all of the answers, so we should choose to accept the gift of wisdom by asking God for it just like we ask for a new job, finances, good health, etc.

Gift #6 – Way of Escape
One sneaky (and sometimes not so sneaky) thing that creeps up in all of our lives is a 10-letter word. T-E-M-P-T-A-T-I-O-N. Temptation has our address, phone number, and email address. There is hope, though. God has just the right gift to help us when temptation comes knocking at our door. 1 Corinthians 10:13 states, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” There is always a way out. We must open our eyes, ears, and hearts to accept the gift and proceed to the nearest escape route.

Gift #7 – Abundant Life
We have an enemy that is always on the prowl to see who he can devour, demean, and diminish. If the enemy had his way, our lives would be desolate, depressing, and deplorable. But God had a better gift and plan in mind. John 10:10 states, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The fact that Jesus came to earth, died on the cross, and rose again canceled out the enemy’s plan. Instead of an empty life, God gifts each of us with abundant life in Him. We just need to embrace this wonderful gift.

Gift #8 – Spiritual Gifts
God created each of His children uniquely and gave each of us spiritual gifts. While all of us do not have the same gift(s), each of us is given gifts to edify the kingdom and point others to the Lord. The entire chapter 1 Corinthians 12 highlights an array of spiritual gifts and callings such as apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healings, helps, governments, and diversity of tongues (verse 28). Additionally, other references for spiritual gifts can be found in Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Peter 4:10-11. The recurring theme surrounding spiritual gifts is service. Our heavenly Father gave each of us as His children spiritual gifts to serve one another.

Gift #9 – Power, Love, and a Sound Mind
God gives His children a threefold gift that can combat fear when it arises. 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” This gift bundle is valuable when the spirit of fear tries to seep in and cripple us. We can tap into power, love, and a sound mind to confidently pursue both great and small tasks that we are presented with each day, knowing that the spirit of fear is not from God. Embracing these gifts takes practice because fear can be persistent, but we must remind ourselves that God freely gives us power, love, and a sound mind.

Gift #10 – Beauty for Ashes
There are times in life when tragedy strikes, and we find ourselves in a season of mourning. God graciously has gifts for us during these seasons. Isaiah 61:3 states, “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” While we cannot avoid sorrow and pain, the gifts of beauty, joy, and praise are promised in exchange. We do not have to remain in a season of mourning forever, thanks to these precious gifts.

Gift #11 – Peace
When we feel confused, uneasy, or anxious, God has the perfect gift. Jesus stated in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” His peace that surpasses all understanding is available for the taking. We must choose to accept the gift, and in exchange, give God all of our cares. We can lay them right at His feet, leave them there, and walk away with the gift of peace.

Gift #12 – Victory
God gives His children victory. Not defeat, but victory! 1 Corinthians 15:57 states, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus Christ, who overcame death, we as children of God always win. Trials will come. Situations may appear bleak, but defeat is not our destination. Instead of a period, there is a comma, and the gift of victory proceeds every storm and each tribulation. When we hold on to this gift, we can grasp hope in those moments where it seems like we have lost. After all, God reminds us that the battle is not ours, but it is His. When He is fighting for us, the result is always victory.

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What Does It Mean to Have Peace with God?

Peace with God is, at its core, a spiritual reconciliation between family members. It’s a restored relationship between Heavenly Father and earthly child, made possible simply because Jesus wanted it so—enough that He was willing to suffer, die, and rise from death for it.

Peace with God in Scripture


God is not at war with you.

If you were raised in one of the “fire-and-brimstone” denominations (or just spend a lot of time listening to street preachers and reading Old Testament histories), that statement probably made you feel simultaneously irritated and worried.

Or maybe you felt a sense of relief?

Don’t worry, whatever you felt is OK, because the honest truth really is what the Apostle Paul declared millennia ago (emphasis mine):

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

Yep, despite the happily-hellish preaching of some of our favorite Bible teachers, God’s not in a prolonged battle with you or me. So what does that mean?

Let’s find out.

Jesus Isn’t Punishing You
When my good friend Kent tells stories of growing up, I sometimes want to cringe. If the boy stubbed his toe or scraped his knee, a well-meaning grandmother was quick to pounce—and pronounce, “Jesus is punishing you!”

To her, it was simple: You sin. God smites you. For Kent, then, God was always antagonistic, always watching and frowning, constantly ready to unleash war against His misbehaving kids. It took decades—and seminary and a lifetime in church leadership—before Kent was finally able to believe for himself the truth he’d read, and preached:

“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ …” (Romans 5:1)

“No circumstance is the result of [God’s] punishment,” pastor Chuck Swindoll comments on this passage. “Bad things do not happen because we have been bad. No event is an expression of God’s ill will against us. On the contrary, He has promised to use every circumstance … to guide His own to maturity.”

So if Jesus isn’t punishing you, then what’s really going on?

Meaning of Peace with God
It’s interesting to notice here that Paul didn’t say we have “peace of God” nor even “God’s peace in us”—though both those things are also true (see John 14:27, Philippians 4:7, and Colossians 3:15).

Instead Paul said we have peace with God.

That tiny word makes a big difference! Remember Paul originally wrote Romans 5:1-2 in Greek, using a word for “with” (prόs) that carries shades of meaning we’re not used to today. Prόs isn’t just “You-and-me-and-God standing near each other.”

Rather, in its ancient cultural context, this “with” was an active word “implying motion or direction.” That’s why a few trusted 19th-century Bible texts translated prόs differently, closer to its original meaning:

“We have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Young’s Literal Translation, 1898).

“We have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Darby Translation, 1890).

The ancient idea here is one of deliberate movement toward something. Place that within Paul’s context of Romans 5:1 and you see a picture of a man or woman moving forward, unhindered, toward a welcoming God. Peace with God.

How is this possible? Well, because (ahem), God’s not at war with you.

You see, when there’s hostility between you and God, it’s a one-way battle. We sin and make ourselves enemies of God, but because of Christ, God refuses to make himself our enemy in return (see Romans 5:8 and 8:1-2). You and I lash out in defiance and disobedience and selfishness and pride and hurtfulness. We miss the mark—and we misunderstand how our own sin blows up in our faces (see John 8:34, Romans 3:23, 6:23, and Ephesians 4:17-24).

Instinctively we feel the separation we’ve created between God and us, along with sin’s harmful fallout, so we blame God for our pain. Yet the reality is that the scars and heartaches we’re suffering are consequences of our own sinful outbursts, not God’s punishment (1).

Theologian William Newell reframes it this way, “Our peace with God is not as between two nations before at war; but as between a king and rebellious and guilty subjects.”

That image helps, I think, but maybe the better picture is this: You and I? We’re that obstinate child shouting “I hate you!” as we stomp off and slam the bedroom door. Meanwhile, our Heavenly Father refuses to retaliate, waiting instead for us to return again to His presence in peace. Why? Because:

“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

Peace with God through Jesus
The way Paul describes it in Romans 5:1-2 (and 3-11), this kind of peace is, at its core, a spiritual reconciliation between family members. It’s a restored relationship between Heavenly Father and earthly child, made possible simply because Jesus wanted it so—enough that He was willing to suffer, die, and rise from death for it. And because Christ Himself has guaranteed our peace with God, we live with unfettered “access” (prosagōgē) to our Father—a word “used in the ancient world to refer to a person’s being conducted into the presence of royalty” (verse 2).

How cool is that?

Still, the absolute best description of peace with God is found in one insightful story told by Jesus long ago, captured for generations in Luke 15:11-32. It goes like this:

A brash, ungrateful young man hatefully insults his father, takes his dad’s money and sinfully squanders it in a foreign country. This situation ends badly for him, until one day he finally realizes his devastating circumstances are caused by his own sin. Then this thought enters his head,

“I will go home to my father” (Luke 15:18, NLT).

The son arrives home fearfully, expecting well-deserved hostility. Instead the father greets his bad boy with open arms and great joy. Why? Because it was the son who warred against the father, and never the father at war with his son.

This lesson of the Prodigal reveals the meaning and implications of Romans 5:1-2 most clearly to our myopic eyes. In a very real, spiritual and practical sense, having peace with God means simply this:

You can always go home.

Note:

Please be aware, I’m not talking about the discipline of God in this context. We know that God corrects his children (Hebrews 12:6), but here we’re speaking of the judgments and subsequent punishments for sin.

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