Why Learn to Pray?

Why Learn to Pray?

By Dave Butts

I love teaching about prayer. I’ve spent much of my life doing just that. So you’ll understand if I bristle a bit when someone says, “Why do I need to learn about prayer? Isn’t it just talking to God?” Actually, I really do understand those comments. Prayer is simple. It is talking with God and the youngest child can do it.

So why learn about prayer then? Scripture has perhaps the most undeniable apologetic for the importance of learning to pray through the story of Jesus’ followers. The Apostles were men who spent all of their time with Jesus for three years. One of the many things that amazed them about Jesus was His prayer life. So it’s not surprising that one day they came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” What Jesus didn’t do was to respond to them by telling them they didn’t need Him to teach them to pray. Instead, He taught them to pray, giving them that powerful teaching tool that we often call, The Lord’s Prayer or Disciples Prayer. Jesus evidently believed that prayer could and should be taught. Scripture tells us that Jesus never did or said anything apart from the Father. He connected, as fully human, with His Father through prayer, because it was the human way to communicate with God.

Often, believers are left to their own devices in prayer. If they are not raised in a home where prayer is taught, or if the church they attend does not train them in prayer, they cannot possibly see prayer as a priority in their spiritual walk. It is just one of many spiritual disciplines which Christians should do. Prayer is rarely seen as the foundation for all of Christian life…even though it is the one way for us to connect with God about everything in this journey of life.

I’ve talked to thousands of people about their prayer lives. Most people feel inadequate and that they are not connecting well with God. Their perception is that their prayers are erratic and often powerless. Why would anyone who feels that way about his or her prayer life want to spend time praying? That’s the issue. Why give yourself to something about which you feel inadequate? Herein lies the power and purpose of good prayer teaching…it leads you to greater prayer.

May I suggest to you that the beneficiary of teaching on prayer is not God, but you? God does indeed hear the prayers of little children and the simple. He doesn’t need for us to receive great teaching on prayer in order to hear us. But we need to learn prayer so that we will pray! Prayer is God’s chosen way of accomplishing His purposes on earth…and He uses His people for that purpose! What an amazing gift and awesome responsibility!

If you are a pastor, teacher, leader, parent, etc. know that teaching prayer is of primary importance. Training all generations to pray, following the example of Jesus with His disciples, helps us focus our hearts on God’s kingdom agenda. This is what PrayerU has been developed to do. We want to come alongside of churches to offer good, solid, biblical training on prayer so that as many people as possible can grow in prayer…and so as many churches as possible can become praying churches.

Prayer is the most important love relationship possible – it connects us with the God of the Universe, Creator of ALL things…who was and is and is to come. Knowing Him involves communication with Him. It is coming before His throne of grace, bowing before Him, submitting our will to His, listening to His heart and carrying out His plans and purposes for His kingdom with deep devotion and obedience.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left behind a group of praying believers – a house of prayer for all nations. Lord, teach us to pray!

Why Learn to Pray?

Use PrayerU to Help Grow Your Praying Church

Welcome to the first PrayerU Blog! You are part of a growing number of churches and individuals who have subscribed to PrayerU. We are excited to have you join our unique teaching/learning/praying community of Christ followers who desire to grow in intimacy with the Father and see their churches become praying churches for the glory of His Kingdom! You now have unlimited access to everything on the PrayerU.com website. If you have a Church Membership, so do all of your church members and attenders. Please be sure you have read the Membership information and watched the short video to help your church people gain access if you haven’t done so already!

  • ADAPTING COURSE CONTENT: We want to remind you that our courses can be adapted for people who are just learning about prayer by breaking the lessons into more than one session, choosing just a few of the simpler questions, etc. Our courses are designed to be used for those who are just beginning to grow in their prayer lives as well as those who are seasoned intercessors and passionate about prayer…and everyone in between. Please let group leaders know that they are free to adapt content as needed.


  • Under our Resources section we have just added an opportunity to sign up for free daily prayer devotions (Connection!) and/or Prayer Tip Tuesday (a free weekly email with prayer articles, blogs and prayer tips).
  • Please check out our Video Resource Library. We will add to this growing library of short (1-3 minutes) teaching/idea videos regularly. We will keep you posted as we add new videos!
  • Soon we will have our Facebook community up and running so that you can interact with one another.
  • Also planned soon – a robust section with prayer quotes and memes.

Some Simple Observations about Prayer in the Church

In decades of teaching/training on prayer in local churches across America, we have become very aware of several things that seem to be present in most. It is not our intent to be critical – just to express what we have experienced through decades of experience in local churches. Perhaps you will recognize your church in one or more of these observations:

  • The majority of those who are a part of a church community struggle with their prayer lives and prefer the practice to be personal and private.

According to a 2017 Barna study, many people pray; however, only 2% of the prayer that happens in the lives of believers actually occurs in community. Therefore, most don’t pray with their spouses or train their children to pray other than meal times or bed time. Corporate prayer of any kind is rarely engaged in.   Many will also state that they are dissatisfied with the quality of their prayer lives. One simply needs to read the Gospels to see the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus, and the book of Acts to see that corporate prayer was the primary activity of the Early Church. Yet, many pastors and leaders tell us that prayer is a difficult discipleship target at best with inadequate resources to do more than exhort or encourage people to do better.

  • The default mode for prayer in most churches is focused on personal needs or health issues rather than upon the Kingdom agenda of God.

Individuals focus on prayer for their own needs and for those in their families and congregations. They ask God for protection, health, and about personal needs. In the church, prayer is used to open and close meetings, and is a way to transition from one segment to the next during Sunday services. People are not being trained to be intimate with Him in prayer, or to pray for the lost, for the nations, for revival, unity, and other things God shows us clearly are upon His heart as we seek His face. Why? See below:

  • Pastors and church leaders who have attended Bible college and/or seminary have, with very few exceptions, never had a course that was focused on prayer and/or the ministry of prayer. Their own personal lives of prayer were an “assumed” discipline rather than crucial to their calling. Therefore, most have never been trained how to grow in their own prayer lives, how to lead others in prayer or how to train others to pray. Most are good at exhorting and encouraging people to pray without giving them the tools to do so. 
  • Prayer ministry is often relegated to those who are the “best pray-ers” rather than guided from the leadership level.

There is often a struggle of some kind between church leaders and the approximately 5% or less of their church members who are passionate about prayer. Learning to love and understand one another is key. Building communication and relationship between pastors/church leaders and intercessors is crucial if the prayer movement in a church is going to grow and flourish.

  • Parents are not teaching their children to pray as they are uncomfortable with their own prayer lives. Therefore, many parents have abdicated the responsibility for teaching or modeling a lifestyle of prayer, assuming that the children’s staff and teachers at their churches will train them. This is not always a good assumption; however, we have seen a hopeful trend of growth in this area. Families need to be taught how to pray together. The family altar has been largely lost in our nation.
  • Much of prayer is done out of duty rather than delight. People have been taught that they should pray rather than how to experience the joy of coming before the Father, the loving Creator of the Universe, and having His full attention. Prayer practices such as being still, listening, drawing near in worship and sitting at Jesus’ feet are seldom practiced because they have not been continually taught through the most recent generations within Church culture.

If you can resonate with one or more of these observations, we hope that PrayerU will be a useful tool for moving your community of believers towards greater growth in both their personal and corporate prayer lives. We are here to help you every step of the way. As PrayerU’s library of courses and resources grows, we will always keep you informed. We encourage pastors and church leaders to come together to pray, if you aren’t already. Ask the Father to grow the prayer movement in your church and in your community. It is through relationships with the Father and with one another that the prayer movement grows. Perhaps the place to start is where the disciples began: “Lord, teach us to pray.”