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Why pray? Thoughts from our brothers at Nottoway…

Why pray? Thoughts from our brothers at Nottoway…

by Chelsey Williams

Prayer is an essential part of every faith journey and something that deserves our time and attention.

Even Jesus, who is God in the flesh, spent hours and hours in prayer while he was on earth.

The Bible records multiple instances where Jesus “went off to the mountain to pray” (Luke 6:12) or got up early to go “to a secluded place to pray” (Mark 1:35). We would do well to follow in his footsteps and take Paul’s advice when he reminds us to “…pray continually…for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

But sometimes it can be hard to make prayer a priority in our lives even when we know how important it is for our relationship with God. So we decided to look around PCC and find some people who are dedicated to spending time with God in prayer and see what they had to say about the subject. 

I recently got in touch with Rob Toepfert, PCC’s Nottoway Campus Pastor, and asked him to find a few men to offer their insights about prayer. If you’re new to PCC, you may not know that we have a micro-campus at Nottoway Correctional Center. The men who attend the Thursday night service there “meet to connect in community, worship together and watch a PCC service through live-streamed video.” Rob picked five men who attend services on a regular basis and passed along a list of questions for them to answer:

  1. Why pray?
  2. How has prayer impacted your life?
  3. Do you hear from God when you pray?
  4. Do you ever ask others to pray for you?
  5. Do you ever get frustrated with prayer? 
  6. What would you say to someone who is just getting started with prayer in their life? Do you have any advice?

The responses that Rob received are incredibly insightful, inspiring and encouraging. Take a look at what these amazing men had to say about the power of prayer in their lives.

From Joseph Paduano:

“I pray because Jesus tells us to pray and because He prayed also. He gave us the template for our prayers. We were also told to ‘pray without ceasing’. In battle or war, you have to be able to send and receive messages. I believe prayer is my direct line to an Omnipotent and Omnipresent God. We are in such a battle – our own flesh wars against the Spirit. Prayer is what helps me win the battle against my flesh and prepare to face outward attacks.

“Prayer has taught me to be patient, thankful and humble. I can do nothing without God’s approval. Believe me, I have tried and I failed miserably. Just look at where I am. God said ‘You want to go through life doing your own thing and forging your own path? Okay, I’ll sit back and let you. I won’t leave you and I will help when you ask, but at some point I might have to sit you down and remind you of who I Am’.

“I hear from God constantly. Whether it is in the form of an answer like ‘ yes, no, or not yet’, or He might send someone my way with that little piece of advice or warning that I so desperately needed and didn’t think to ask for. Or the Spirit will openly tell me what I need to do while I am in my alone time with Him. The Bible says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress: my God; in Him will I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).

“I often ask others to pray for me for multiple reasons. It creates a bond between me and the person I asked to pray, or to put it another way, it reminds me I am not alone. Intercessory Prayer is powerful because from both sides you can see how God answers the prayer or how He works in someone else’s life. Also, praying for others takes the selfish “me” and “I” out of my prayer.

“I used to get frustrated when it didn’t seem like God was answering my prayers and sometimes I still do, but I realized that I might have received an answer and it wasn’t the one I wanted to hear. It might have been a flat ‘no’ or it might be a ‘not yet’ or it might have been an answer like, ‘I need you to do something for me first while you are where you are, don’t worry I will protect you, but you are right where I need you for this task.’

Advice for someone just starting with prayer:

“My advice to a new prayer warrior is to build your relationship with God. He is always listening. Other prayer warriors are always there when times get tough or when you don’t know what to say. Most of the time all we have to do is ask for help and back up arrives.”

 

From James DeWitt:

“Why do I pray? To let my issues know that I have an ‘Issue Resolving God’ waiting to move on my behalf, and One who loves for me to bring my matters before Him. Prayer brings me Peace, knowing that I present my matters before Him and leave them in His hands. It also strengthens my bond with God through having someone to take my intimate subjects to.

I mostly hear from God and any answers He has for my prayer requests early in the morning hours when things are silent, and I’m lying awake in the bed. He taught me the one undeniable method of attracting His creation (man). He told me ‘Just let them see Me and they’ll come’.

I often ask others to pray for me. I know that we grow and develop together, and asking others and allowing them access to your matters allows them to share in your experiences while allowing them to grow beyond their battles of praying for self.

“I believe we all battle with wanting what we ask for. For us who believe in our transformation, our flesh is subject to our spirit so it doesn’t overshadow our trust in His abilities. Trusting Him is what enables us to keep going forward.”

 

From Jonathan Moon:

“I pray to stay in a healthy relationship with my Father. God knows what I need before I even ask but it is an honor that God hears me and cares enough to listen. I would be missing a great opportunity if I didn’t pray to Him. Prayer keeps me grounded. Prayer also allows me to see what God is doing in my life each day.

“When I pray, God often answers my prayers with ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Not right now.’ He has taught me that He answers each time even when it is not what I wanted to hear. I often ask others to pray for me or my request. To me it is just one of the myriad of ways we can show love for each other.

When I allow the flesh to rule my thoughts, I tend to get frustrated when God doesn’t answer how I think that He should. But when I get out of the way and let the Spirit take over, I realize that God’s ways, thoughts, and timing are much greater than mine.

Advice for someone just starting with prayer:

If I had to give one piece of advice, it would be to equate [prayer] to being in a relationship with a man/woman that you are in love with. If you truly love them, you communicate with them to get to know them better. It is no different with God. We learn about Him through His Word, worship, and prayer.”

 

From Verlie Word:

Prayer is not made so that God can find out what we need. Jesus tells us, ‘Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him’ (Matthew 6:8). I pray because prayer expresses my trust in God and is a means whereby my trust in Him can increase. Mostly it’s my personal communication with God! Praying has given me assurance and confidence which has impacted my daily walk. Because my obedience to God is never perfect, I’m constantly depending on His forgiveness for my sins. Being able to pray and confess helps me not walk in condemnation.

When I pray, sometimes I hear from God and sometimes I don’t. I have learned that I’m in good company when I don’t hear from God. Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42) and He still went to the cross. The hearing part is beautiful. In my spirit, He leads me to what He wants me to know or do at that time. When I don’t hear from God, I don’t get discouraged. Because I know He’s hearing me, and the Word of God says, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose’ (Romans 8:28).

I ask others to pray for me, especially if we are able to do it together. Believers find strength in praying together and for others. Jesus teaches us, ‘Again, I say to you, if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them’ (Matthew 18:19).

“If I don’t hear from God, I can’t say it makes me frustrated, but I have doubted if what I’m praying for is of His will. For example, I have prayed for parole and have been turned down over and over. I know God hears my prayers, because I’m in right standing with Him through Jesus Christ. I know His Sovereignty is better than my requests. As I grow in this faith, I lean on the Scriptures to give me peace. The Word of God says ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Advice for someone just starting with prayer:

“When you pray, understand that you are communicating with the Creator of all, your Heavenly Father. He delights in hearing from you, and welcomes you to express yourself, ask your questions, but mostly show your reverence and love towards Him. Your prayer is made possible by our mediator, Jesus Christ. So it’s good to know the authority by which we come to a Holy God. Also it may help to find a quiet place to keep distractions away while you pray.”

 

From Tremayne Seymour:

“I pray for strength and direction from God. It has helped me to not hold everything in, which used to cause a great deal of stress. So I see things clearer now. God has taught me that His answers come on His time, not on my time. He also taught me that everything I want may not be good for me.

“I ask others to pray for me because God said that when two or more come together, He’s there (Matthew 18:20).  So I believe there is strength in numbers! Sometimes I get frustrated when I don’t hear from God because we are in a ‘here and now’ type of world. But God looks to the future. So when you start realizing that, things will get easier to deal with.

Advice for someone just starting with prayer:

“When you’re just getting started, start off with short prayers. When you become comfortable, you can start adding more and more in prayer. Also, talk to God as if you’ve known Him forever.”

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What an inspiring group of men! In a recent message, Pastor Elijah said, “Prayer is not a subject to become an expert on, it’s a relationship to be invested in,” and they are investing well in their relationship with God. We hope you’ll begin, or continue to, invest in your own relationship with God by spending time in prayer each day. As Tremayne said, it’s as easy as “starting off with short prayers” and “talking to God as if you’ve known Him forever.” 

*Special thanks to Joseph Paduano, James DeWitt, Jonathan Moon, Verlie Word and Tremayne Seymour for their time, thoughtfulness and insights into these important questions, and Pastor Rob Toepfert for his help in putting this together. We look forward to hearing more from our friends at Nottoway! 

Additional Resources

WATCH: The Power of Prayer

DEVOTIONAL: Purpose Through Prayer

ARTICLE: How Do I Pray? 

Categories: Faith  Self  

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Written by

Chelsey Williams

Staff Writer and Editor

Published June 23, 2022


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