Prayer: the means by which Christians sway the will of God to do what they believe is best for them, be it in relation to new possessions, the acquiring of a wife or the end of famine in North-Africa.


Prayer: the means by which Christians ask of an Almighty God that which He will do regardless of the presence of prayer.


After a long discussion on prayer last night in our small group I decided to consult John Calvin on this part of the Christian belief system. What is it that the Bible tells us about prayer, the use of it and the necessity thereof? Here follows some extracts of what Calvin understands regarding prayer:

The importance of prayer:

  • The Lord’s gospel is a treasure in that we are saved from our desperate selfs and concerning this promise and gift “.. we see that to us nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers.
  • “Words fail to explain how necessary prayer is, and in how many ways the exercise of prayer is profitable.”
Is prayer needed?
  • God instructed us to pray “..not so much for his sake as for ours.”
  • Objections to prayer as unneeded:
    • So that we become used to it to run to him as our [sacred] anchor.
    • We fight against wrong desires and twisted thoughts as we are ashamed that he would witness it in us when we show our hearts to him in prayer.
    • It reminds us of the grace given to us and reminds us that it comes from his hands.
    • We delight in the things that were given to us by asking them in prayer.
    • He promises never to fail us and through his will opened a way in which we can call upon him; he extends his hand to help us, not “wet-nursing” us with words but “defending them [us] with present help.”
In short, as I understand it: Prayer is a gift, an aspect of the means in which the Christian can find comfort and confidence in the presence of God. A mere thought, breath away from us is the understanding, the witnessing and acknowledgment of the presence of the ever-present God.


*John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564) had some free time on his hands after he had fled from the French; he found himself in Basel, Switzerland. As most people tend to turn in early in that region of Switzerland Calvin decided to put together a short piece on what Christians believe, or as I refer to it: Institutio Christianae religionis.


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