I have observed that a person who does not pray goes on a lonely pilgrimage.  He or she shuts himself off from that help that is within his or her reach.  He will not take the outstretched hand of God.  He chooses to go it alone.  We should not make light of that person, for his choice may be born of deep sincerity.  But it would certainly seem that he puts too much trust in human strength alone. 

In the New Testament, Jesus had much to say about the power of prayer.  But nowhere did He probe more deeply than when He said: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.”  In rather vivid language, He insists that prayer is a creative force.  It accomplishes much.  It harnesses divine resources.  It touches humankind at the level of our deepest needs.  It links earth to heaven and joins man to God.

Of course, we need to remember that prayer is not magic.  It cannot save us from reaping that which we have sown.  It cannot change the consequences of our decisions.  So, then, what does happen when we pray? 

For one thing, we give expression to thoughts and feelings for which there are no words.  Not everything that we think and feel can be verbalized.  Even at best, words are a limitation.  Words are vessels, but  frequently a vessel is too small to contain the fullness of a thought.  Lovers cannot put into words all that is in their hearts.  No new parent can say everything that fills their heart. 

There is so much in our living that transcends word and phrase.  There is only one way to express it – in unspoken prayer, in the reach of the soul toward God.  Our lives are so much bigger than the world in which we dwell.  Our hopes are too high to be expressed in mere words.  Such expression requires sighs and dreams.  Our sorrows are often too deep for words.  Such an expression involves tears and groaning.  Jesus said prayer is like asking, seeking and knocking.  It gives expression to a world of thoughts and feelings that cannot be put into words.

Prayer also brings God into our lives and puts His power at our disposal.  People often talk about practical religion.  We all agree with that – vital faith that comes to grip with real issues, that feeds the hungry, that works for social reform.  Such faith looks for fruit on the tree; it wants to see some practical results.  But let us also remember that the roots under the tree are just as practical as the fruit on it. 

Even Jesus reached the place where all His stress on practical service would not fit the bill.  He needed something more.  What saw Him through was something underground, not visible to the eye.  His life was rooted in the eternal, inexhaustible power of God.  The way to that power is through prayer. 

That same experience is here today, waiting for you and me.  It has been there a long, long time.  Some have discovered it; many have not; so it keeps on waiting.  Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.”

Prayer is an experience of discovery.  When we pray, God becomes real and His power becomes our strength to meet the demands of daily living.