Prayer can no more be divorced from worship than life can be divorced from breathing. If we follow his impulse, the Holy Spirit will always lead us to pray. When we allow him to work freely, he will always bring the Church to extensive praying. Conversely, when the Spirit is absent, we will find excuses not to pray. We may say, “God understands. He knows I love him. But I’m tired. I’m so busy. It’s just not convenient now…” When the Spirit is absent, our excuses always seem right, but in the presence of the Spirit our excuses fade away.
It is not merely the pleadings of patriarchs and prophets, apostles and martyrs, men strong in faith giving glory to God. Neither is it the prayers enshrined and intoned in imposing ritual, rising from the great congregation amid ornate temples, and borne on the wings of enchanting music – but the groan, the glance, the tear, the tremulous aspiration of smitten penitents, the veriest lisping of infant tongues; the unlettered petitions morning and evening of the cottage home, where the earthen floor is knelt upon, where the only altar is the altar of the lowly heart, and the sacrifice that of a broken and contrite spirit.
Praying God’s Word back to Him in the corporate assembly communicates that we want to approach Him in His terms, not ours, and according to who He has revealed Himself to be, not who we would prefer Him to be (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
The purpose of prayer is not for the disciple to bring information to God; the purpose of prayer is for the disciple to experience intimacy with God.