Prayer: Opening Your Heart to the Most Compassionate Friend

Mar 25, 2024


In a survey of 2,000 adults in the U.S. conducted by the Barna Group in 2022, 77% of respondents said they believe in a higher power. Nearly half (44%), said they are more open to God today than they were before the start of the pandemic in 2020.

What do we do when we’re confronted with trouble, pain, or confusion in our personal lives and in the world around us? Many people turn to God for meaning, comfort, and hope. This turning to God often takes the form of prayer. But what exactly is prayer?

Prayer is expressing your thoughts or feelings to God. This can be as simple as pausing to acknowledge the spiritual presence of God, or it can mean pouring out to God your questions or sadness or anger — whatever it is you are feeling. Prayer is talking to God about the things on your heart or just sitting in silence being with God.

“We must pray who we actually are, not who we think we should be. In prayer, all is not sweetness and light. The way of prayer is not to cover our unlovely emotions so that they will appear respectable, but expose them so that they can be enlisted in the work of the kingdom,” wrote Eugene Peterson in his book Answering God.

If you aren’t sure what to say when you pray, you can say a pre-written prayer, such as The Lord’s Prayer (found in the Bible in Matthew 6:9–13), or you can make one of the biblical Psalms your own prayer to God. Many books of pre-written prayers are available as well.

National Day of Prayer

During National Day of Prayer, millions of people across the country will take time to pray about what’s on their hearts, in particular about their communities, their country, and their leaders. Many at Adventist Health will also be praying.

“Through prayer, we receive an extra measure of strength, wisdom, and encouragement to face the things that challenge our sense of well-being,” says Sam Leonor, Mission Identity and Spiritual Care executive for Adventist Health. Sam leads the team of chaplains at Adventist Health who provide emotional and spiritual care for patients and their caregivers. “When we face anxiety about our health or the health of family and friends, expressing our trust in God’s goodness and praying for God’s power to meet our needs provides peace, rest, and renewed hope.”

10 ideas for prayer

Here are some ideas of things you can pray for on National Day of Prayer. You may also find creative ways to incorporate these themes into your personal devotions, family conversations, or your work experience.

  1. People who need mental, physical, and spiritual healing.
  2. People who are grieving.
  3. People who are vulnerable.
  4. The unhoused.
  5. Medical professionals and healthcare leaders.
  6. Our environment and the animals.
  7. Students of all ages.
  8. People facing financial hardship.
  9. Local, state, and federal government leaders.
  10. Faith communities.

May each of us find strength and renewed hope in the practice of prayer.

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” – Psalm 107:13–15 (NIV)