Prayer is not principally a subject for teaching or discussion, but for practice. It is meant to be a basic part of life, a way of life. Prayer is natural, and most people (including those who say they have no faith) at least call out to God in emergencies.
Of course, it is not meant to be a "last resort" and some folk feel that God has let them down. Perhaps you have seen that poster that says, "If God seems a million miles away, guess who's moved!" Many of us feel that our prayer life is not what it ought to be - we don't know our heavenly Father well enough, we don't know how to pray!
That is why we need to come again and again to the Master Teacher with the request, "Lord, teach us to pray."
We also need to be reminded of the nature and importance of prayer because of the "Christian activism" abroad in the Church today. The prophet Samuel saw intercessory prayer as an important duty when he said, "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you" (1 Samuel 12.23). Today we have a tendency to think that we should be "getting on with the business" and not using up precious moments with praying. It is sometimes even inferred that the folk who want to do the praying don't have any great concern with the real issues facing the Church and society. Somehow in our very busy-ness we forget the one we are supposed to be serving, like Martha in Luke 10.38-42.
We need a more sober recognition of the inadequacy of our human resources for the holy warfare in which we are engaged. Only as we make our meagre resources available to God in prayer does he channel his mighty resources in and through us.
These studies represent the substance of a sermon series in a number of parishes and congregations. They are presented in this form, not as an exhaustive study of an important subject, but hopefully as a stimulus to all of us to a way of life which includes meaningful and effective prayer.