What is the Point of Prayer?


In our adult education classes at church these days, we are studying the subject of prayer. The biggest challenge has been to change our ideas about the purpose of prayer. Most of us think of prayer as a way to get something or to achieve a result, such as the healing of a sick friend.

There is no reason not to pray for what we want or need, as long as we recognize that there are other reasons for prayer also – perhaps more important ones. What if we were to think of prayer, for instance, as a way of developing our relationship with God or as a way to change ourselves? What if we were to think of prayer as a way to learn to be open to God and to others?

Here is yet another powerful reason for prayer taken from Richard Beck’s “This Ritual of Hallowing:”

“Imagine someone comes to you and shares a great burden. They share loss, failure, despair, fear, brokenness, or sickness. Their own or that of someone they love. What do you say upon listening? Thanks for sharing? Good luck with all that? I’m so sorry? Something has happened, something was shared, that needs to be set apart from every other mundane and silly thing that has happened during the day. The moment needs to be hallowed–set apart, consecrated, made holy. And so you pray. Prayer is a hallowing… Do I believe God is out there answering all these petitions and requests? Again, I don’t know. But I know that prayer–this ritual of hallowing–is the only proper response.”