How Important is Prayer?

When I visited the boy I sponsor in India, Sarath, he didn’t talk so much. We instead communicated with the toss of a Frisbee. But at the end of the visit as he walked me back to the bus, this little boy who had said little else, said over and over, “Please pray for me. Please pray for me. Please pray for me.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could tell you that faithfully every morning now I have kneeled to lift up Sarath and his two teenage sisters and unemployed mother? Too many mornings (and nights for that matter), I’m rushing and distracted and have forgotten the one plea Sarath made of me. Not “send more money.” Not “send more gifts.” Pray for me.

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:18, emphasis added (NIV).

How seriously do we take prayer? How important do we consider prayer? I know I certainly don’t take it seriously enough. It’s the Sunday school answer to the issues we hear of plaguing the children we minister to.

How quickly and easily does the phrase, “I’ll pray for that” run off our tongues? But do we see prayer for what it is — crying out to the omnipotent God for His incomparable power to work in the lives of these children?

For we don’t just throw money at a problem. Our weapon against poverty isn’t cash. Our weapons “have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV).

0805bo-0380As Eric Alexander says, “The great business of the church is prayer. And the greatest need of a needy world is a praying church.”

“In all our thinking about Christian service, prayer needs to become fundamental instead of supplemental … Prayer is the work; it is the essence of the task to which we are called, and apart from it, all other work, and I mean Christian work, is a sheer waste of time and energy divorced from the basic work of prayer. Everything else is insignificant.” – Eric Alexander

Oh my soul, when will I take prayer as seriously as I ought?

My husband and I just wrote a small group study that is all about learning about the issues in this world and responding to them in prayer. But I still fall so short in this ministry of prayer to the children we sponsor.

So tell me — what do you do to be alert and stay alert as Ephesians 6 says?

How do you keep on praying for all the saints?

What stories do you have of the power of God through prayer in your sponsored children’s lives, or your own life?

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19 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Madhu September 2, 2011

    Hey Children of OUR Living God, pray for me a sinnner so that I may GROW in CHRIST

    1. Kees Boer September 2, 2011

      Well, Madhu…..

      I don’t know you, but in order to grow in Christ, you first have to be in Christ. You are placed in Christ, by placing your faith in Christ, that He paid for your sin on the cross. Then all of your sins are washed away by His blood. Then in reality, you will be a forgiven sinner and your sins will be all washed away. Realizing this is actually the key to growing in Christ too. You realize you’re forgiven and your realize God’s love for you and you respond in obedience to Him. This is quite a bit in a nutshell. Read the Book of John first. It will take about 2 hours, if you it in one sitting, then read Romans 6,7, and 8. I hope that helps.

  2. Jenny December 31, 2009

    I many times think prayers as a times when I pour my heart to God, anytime and anywhere. But I believe I need to spend times just only with God, without any distraction. Give my best time for Him, so I can listen what He want from me and other things that I can lift up to Him. I pray for my sponsored child but it more like repetition. But I am glad at least to know she will have a better future.

  3. Elaine December 31, 2009

    Our child in Rwanda was not doing well in school. We said we would pray for wisdom. Lo and behold, she finished first in her class the next year! God honors prayer connections between us.

  4. Steve December 31, 2009

    Another thought about what makes something idolatry; it’s not to do with the outward look of something, it’s to do with the heart. Any discipline which helps someone to live out their love for God & His people is good. Idolatry is simply putting something that is not God in God’s place. If you love God & are looking to obey Him you just are not going to practice idolatry. Idolatry is likely if I have a low or bad view of God. Then I will naturally put something else in His place. I might feel guilty about this, but the only way to prevent it is to focus on God, not to try to live by a set of rules that tries to control things from the outside. The comments left by people here obviously show a heart for God & His kingdom & people. The key to living this out is in using spiritual disciplines, especially ones that help us to pray effectively. No one has said here that things like prayer beads are of any value in themselves, but if they help to give a routine or a reminder then great. I think on the surface certain things remind people in one denomination of things in another denomination that they disapprove of & that causes worry, but always look at motives. God looks at the heart, not the outside.

  5. Kim Edge July 1, 2009

    Caren, we face many dangers as Christians. The danger that was originally presented was the danger of not praying enough. In my use of prayer beads, I am quickly reminded to pray, and not repetitive phrases, but to say an “Our Father”, which Jesus himself taught us, to think about what the phrases of that prayer mean, and pray for the Holy Spirit to be upon us all. I can hear my God and he never chides me or insults me. The beads help me remember my crucified Lord’s love for me and how God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to die for us, that all who believe in him might be saved.

    I pray that God will give you his loving wisdom,

    Kim 😀

  6. Caitlin July 1, 2009

    Interesting thoughts, Caren. It seems that you are blessed with an ability to focus without assistance. Just like there are learning types, there are prayer types however. Beads can be thought of as reminders for specific consistent prayer topics. They can be thought of as a “prayer list” that a visual learner might write down to organize and focus their prayers, but instead of being an all visual moment, like writing, beads, something that can be touched is good for someone who is a hands on learner. There is no black and white in many situations as these. I tend to be a hands on processor, myself, and while I don’t usually use beads, I often wear simple bracelets of different colors to remind me to pray for something more often. For example, my Lilin’s favorite color is pink, so I wear a pink bracelet to remind me to pray for her more often, and when I pray, I often finger the bracelet in order to focus my thoughts.

    One more point I feel the need to make, a majority of our “Christian” traditions do have Pagan origins. Early Christians often placed Christian holidays in the same time as Pagan holidays in attempt to replace them and gain more converts… However, Christmas(A holiday replacing a winter pagan holiday, which has links to the reason for the use of pine trees), in itself (not the commercialized one so much) really isn’t considered to be a Pagan tradition.

    True, beads may be a distraction to some, but that is not their intended use. Labeling something that currently helps so many focus on God to be pagan, really doesn’t seem right.

  7. Caren July 1, 2009

    Prayer beads are a pagan device, a from of idolatry, which takes our focus off our relationship as our Father’s children.

    The danger that we face with prayer beads is mindlessly going through a routine of praying, but paying no attention to what we are saying. Rather than engaging our minds and hearts, rather than thinking upon the Scripture as we pray, rather than consciously seeking the Father, we may fall prey to mumbling through a series of religious sounding words but do nothing more than the Hare Krishna.

    Prayer is dialogue with our Creator. It should never be ritual. In prayer we come to God in dependence upon the righteousness of Christ, casting ourselves upon His resources, and looking to Him as our Father that grants our hearing.

    He “knows what you need before you ask Him” — your prayer is a time to quiet your heart before Him, to pour out your needs, and to cling to Him in faithful dependence. I can hear Him now admonishing us…. “put that toy away… come… sit here… look at me… ask me in faith and it will be given to you… I want to hear what you have to say…”

  8. Kees Boer July 1, 2009


    Prayer is very important. Whenever I talk to prospective sponsors, I always tell them that it takes three things to sponsor a child.

    1. Prayer
    2. Write them from time to time.
    3. The $38/month

    Then I tell them that those are in the order of importance and also that they work like ingredients in a pie. In other words, if one is missing, the whole pie tastes bad.

    I pray for each of my children every day. The thing that becomes difficult sometimes is that I pray the same things over and over again. This is especially difficult with the ones, who aren’t from a country where they write reciprocal letters, because it takes so long to find what new thing to pray for.


  9. Mike Stephens June 30, 2009


    I wanted to add something else. I greatly appreciate Compassion and ALL the workers that make the day to day things happen from my letters to the Sponsor Tours to working at the tables and getting trained as an Advocate!!!!!!! I bring a message from Cherrie V. Rose de Los Santos from Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Philippines: “Your work and efforts are not in vain!!!!!!!” She shared her testimony during our dinner with the LDP students during the Sponsor Tour!!!!!!! I also wanted to add a question of my own…What is Compassion to me? So far as my short time as a sponsor Compassion is the special moment I got to share during a CSP home visit watching the staff help make finger puppets for the baby daughter of a young couple in the Philippines. Compassion is the tricycle driver who was missing an eye who poured hydrogen peroxide and put gaus and tape on my bleeding fingers after I dunked a basketball numerous times. Compassion is seeing God answer the prayers of my sponsor kids namely Reneboy Basinang who prayed I would visit and I did. Compassion is trusting God for my dreams as well as the dreams of my sponsored kids!!!!!!! Compassion is meeting my sponsored kids, their parents, and project staff face to face. Compassion is love and I Corinthians 13:8 “Love never fails!!!!!!!”

  10. Stephanie G June 30, 2009

    I was about to head to bed and pray for all of my children when I stumbled on this post. I,
    too,don’t always pray as thoroughly as I’d like for each child but I’m including something here that taught me what can happen when I do.

    (an earlier comment from another post about one of my sponsored children)

    My child that I’ve sponsored longest,Frank, lives in Tanzania and has consistently asked me over the last two years to pray for him to learn to read and write, as he has struggled with this and he just turned 12. I have continued to do this for him over the last couple of years. All of his letters have been dictated to project staff and Frank has mentioned several times that he believed that if I prayed this for him, the prayer would be answered.

    While I’ve received frequent letters for the last two years from Frank,there have been none since early January. I have been very concerned for him and his family,as this was a “dry spell” compared to his previous correspondence . I have been praying for their safety and health, hoping all was okay and praying that a letter would arrive to reassure me.

    Today, that letter came, four months to the day after it was written. But it was written BY FRANK!! For the first time, it was written in the first person, saying “My family and I are fine and thank you for the gift you sent me.” I read the letter with tears in my eyes when I realized the whole thing was his words written in his own hand. And what’s more…his school progress report accompanied the letter and it showed his strongest subjects were now handwriting and reading!

    What a wonderful lesson on God’s faithfulness for me, for Frank and for my three young children (who read the letter
    with me)!!!

  11. Mike Stephens June 30, 2009


    Thanks for asking 😉

    So tell me — what do you do to be alert and stay alert as Ephesians 6 says? I think I am alert, but I am realizing I must look like I walk around sometimes with a huge bullseye on my forehead or stomach saying, “Hey Satan I’m over here amigo!” I think the best way I stay alert is by going over bible verses in my head.

    How do you keep on praying for all the saints? I often pray for my sponsor kids when I am swimming.

    What stories do you have of the power of God through prayer in your sponsored children’s lives, or your own life? one of my sponsored kids wrote in a letter that he prayed I would visit so he could meet me. He was the only one out of the 3 boys in the Philippines I sponsor that I did NOT tell I was going to visit. His letter was written around the time I got my job as a Taxi driver which is how I paid for the trip. I didn’t realize this until months after b/c the letter took a while to get to me. I am not sure from there end about answered prayers I have prayed. Some are still yet to come!!!!!!!

  12. Dwight June 30, 2009

    In February I heard a sermon from Pastor Billy Kim at Moody’s Founders week. He is a Korean pastor and he said that when people ask him why the church in Korea is so large he tells them its prayer. At his church they get up at 4am to pray. Thank God I am not Korean I doubt I could get up that early. He said that many pastors pray for hours each day.
    In America it’s easy to depend on our self and not to pray. I would assume younger people in Korea have this same struggle. I would assume that people living in poverty learn to trust in God and pray often. Because they depend on God for so much they see the power in prayer. I depend on my own abilities so I struggle with prayer.

  13. Kim Edge June 30, 2009

    I use prayer beads as reminders to pray. I use the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner”) and follow it with “Help my child!”.

    I also practice contemplative prayer and
    the beads are sometimes useful reminders to persist in prayer. The
    Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (which I am a member of) has a Lutheran rosary based on Luther’s Small Catechism which
    they invented for Lenten prayer discipline, and there are examples of
    Anglican prayers on beads as well as many other Christian traditions. Knots are used in some traditions. My girl is in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has a tradition of using knotted prayer ropes.

    Here are some links to interesting web sites, if you are interested:

    On this site you will find a link to a pdf file of the ELCA Lutheran rosary:

    Some examples of Anglican prayers we could modify to be Lutheran:

    These gemstone beads are quite expensive but there are much cheaper
    online sites for beads and there is a lovely collection of sample prayers that are scripturally based:

    My friends, we are to pray without ceasing and I urge you to remember that “in Him we live and move and have our being”. God is present with us in every breath and we are all connected to our children at all times and in all places THROUGH GOD…

    God bless,
    Kim Edge

  14. Amy Wallace June 30, 2009

    I have to confess my prayer life is not as good as it should be. I let the distractions of my life get in the way. It is something I definitely need to give priority to.

  15. Kristen June 30, 2009

    @Scott Jensen – great thought, Scott! I am not very comfortable yet praying for/with someone but just returned from a mission trip where I was asked to do this on several occasions. This is something I need to do more often to force myself into that comfort level. There’s no time like the present to do these things!! Thanks for the reminder!

  16. Josh Valley June 30, 2009

    Amber I totally agree with you. I like to think that I pray more than your average person, but a lot of the time this is out of neccessity for my own needs.

    I think we all sense God’s compassion and desire for us to pray through life…instead of just about certain things we want in life.

    The desire for God’s Kingdom to come and for us to be tangibly part of that is a good thing I think. But, without prayer…without spending time with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…I don’t think we will be as effective or alert to do God’s will in all circumstances.

    I like the bit about prayer being fundamental and not supplemental…I hope we can all pursue this. I sense God wanting to do this in my life…His Kingdom needs more people who are praying all the time for His Kingdom to come in every situation, relationship and circumstance we find ourselves in.

    Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement.

  17. Scott Jensen June 30, 2009

    I think the problem with what we as Christians do today is that we say, “I will be praying for you”, instead of “Let me pray for you right now”, when two or more are gather, they are in the presence of God, so I think there is huge power in laying a hand on someones shoulder and praying for them right there and then, instead of waiting to do it on our own time. It also helps us to remember to do it later as well.

  18. Chuck Guth June 30, 2009

    Convicted! Recently I have been having these exact same feelings. Too often I say I’ll pray and then it passes by. I am good at praying for my sponsored children. I have reminders of them all over the house and make it a point to pray for them before I go to sleep. It is the other times that I tend to forget. Maybe keeping a small journal handy to jot down these requests will help. I know that this blog post has brought an awareness and I am so glad I am not the only one that sometimes falls short in this.

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