God cares about me – The art of praying

Prayer must be learned. This is not only the case for children. At the same time, faith without prayer is hardly conceivable. Faith and prayer go hand in hand. Faith needs to express itself. Silent faith hurts. A three-part reflection.

“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words,” Jesus said to His disciples when they asked Him about prayer. “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6: 7–8). A prayer does not have to take hours or consist of many beautifully formulated sentences—it must come from the heart and be sincere. Helpful is the fact that God already knows what we need before we pray to Him.

Many people pray because they think this is the proper thing to do or because it was part of their upbringing. This is not a bad start. Every prayer is welcome, even if it is one that has been memorised and is always recited by heart. “Prayer is the breath of the soul,” John Henry Newman (1801–1890), an influential English churchman and theologian, said. Just as breathing is synonymous with life, praying is synonymous with being a Christian. Every Christian must therefore pray because prayer belongs to faith.

Public and private prayers

This is not matter of course. When people speak about praying they automatically do so in the context of worship and divine service. This is where people pray. This goes without saying and everyone expects it. Worship and divine service without prayer is unthinkable. Be it in the form of sung or spoken prayers, spontaneous prayers or prayers that are led by the clergy—praying belongs in divine service.

On the other hand, public prayers in divine service are only part of it. There are also private prayers. Praying is not restricted to divine service: praying in divine service is to encourage people to pray themselves. And not only when problems arise or when they are in the depths of despair and no longer see a way out, but in all situations of life.

Why is it so important to emphasise this? Because prayer clearly expresses the fellowship between God and man. In the Catechism it says: “In prayer, the believer experiences: God is present, God hears, and God answers” (CNAC 13.1). Actually, those who believe in God can wish for nothing more beautiful. If they know that God hears them in prayer, they can be content. And yet many people ask themselves if this is really the case. They look for evidence proving that this is not possible: “God surely has other things to do than listening to my prayers.” Or: “Whether I pray or not, nothing changes in my life anyway.”

Faith and prayer go hand in hand

We see that there is more to praying than a pronounced focus on tradition or making a public show of it. Prayer is to be sincere and come from the heart. Only then can it have the desired effects: the feeling that God has heard and understood us, a sense of peace, the certainty that we are not alone in this world. Prayer is the expression of our faith. Without faith in God’s omnipotence it is absurd to address God in prayer and expect a response. Why should we worship Him if we do not believe in Him? The faithful know that nothing is impossible for God, that He can be addressed, and that He responds. Those who pray like this make the experience that God is a conversation partner who hears and responds. He is interested in the concerns of human beings and accompanies them on their way.

God cares about us! We have every reason to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and continue steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12: 12).

Article info


Peter Johanning
Doctrinal statements, Congregational life