The singular truth about prayer that can most revolutionize a person’s prayer life is this – the primary purpose of prayer is be in God’s presence. When we make that our aim, first and foremost simply to enter into and experience God’s presence, our understanding of prayer takes on transformative meaning. Prayer becomes a relationship more than a responsibility, a place more than a process, a delight more than a drudgery and an end more than a means.
The prayer life of Jesus and the way in which He related to His disciples illustrates this priority in prayer. In His own personal life Jesus frequently sought a solitary place in which He could commune with His Father in prayer. On occasion He brought some of His disciples with Him and the divine encounters He had with the Heavenly Father so impressed them that they finally asked Him to teach them to pray. (Luke 11:1) His response is noteworthy. He began by encouraging them to seek out a relationship with the heavenly Father themselves instructing them to pray “Father, hallowed be Thy name. . . .”
When Jesus chose the twelve He established this same priority emphasizing that relationship precedes responsibility. We are told “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14 NIV) One cannot help but notice that His first concern and purpose was that they simply “be with him.” That is Jesus’ desire for each of us with regard to prayer – simply to spend time with Him.
One of the best verses in the Bible that embodies God’s ultimate purpose for and intended blessings from prayer is found in Psalm 16:11. It was penned by David who is singularly described as a “man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22) “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The promise embedded in this verse is that out of God’s presence flows not only joy but also the revelation of His will, i.e. “the path of life.” The wonder of this priority in prayer is that in God’s presence, His perspective and will are revealed, thus enabling us to pray by revelation for the things that are upon His heart. That in turn releases faith because “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV)