Chaplain's Corner: Prayer Part I – Defining Prayer

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jason Gilleland
  • Special Warfare Training Wing/ Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas--In the previous Chaplain’s Corner article, which addressed the importance of spiritual reading, we reflected upon how learning from a valued text is essential to the development of our spiritual growth as well as the growth of our character. Today we will look at another important spiritual discipline, the discipline of prayer.  


First we must define prayer. Prayer, in the most basic sense, is talking to God or something (one) higher than yourself.


Prayer is an integral part of many religions and even those that do not adhere to a specific faith group, will usually affirm and even welcome prayer.


Prayer in its very nature, reminds us that we are not ultimate, and that there is something or someone greater than us, on whom we depend.


We find many records of prayer as far back as the nations of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Israel. These examples show that many prayers were directed toward an all-powerful deity, and often requested things such as protection, sustainment, and direction.


Even today, many people still view prayer as an essential part of spiritual life, and they do so for good reason. So why should we pray?

Some reasons to pray:

  1. It is commanded. In many religions, prayer is not an option but rather a command. For example, in the Christian faith believers are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:16-18) and in the Muslim faith, the salat consists of 5 daily prayers which Muslim’s are required to do. While being commanded to do something may not seem like the most motivating of reasons, concerning prayer, it is oftentimes a driving force.


  1. To develop relationship with something greater than ourselves. Communication is necessary in developing the strength and resiliency in all relationships. Good communication is highly valued in marriage, special warfare, and in our faith. When we take time out of the busyness of our day, to connect with our faith, it helps develop a greater sense of connection with God or higher power.  


  1. For comfort. Whether an injustice has occurred or circumstances outside of our control are causing chaos, being able to lift up our hurt and concerns to something or someone greater than ourselves, gives us a sense of peace. God is always there with an open ear, willing to hear those whose voices might not otherwise be heard.


  1. For direction. Sometimes when the path we should take is not clear, a time of prayer can help relieve the mind and refresh the heart. Simply taking time out and focusing our heart and mind outside of ourselves can do wonders in helping us to see things more clearly.


While prayer is undoubtedly beneficial, it can also be challenge. Of all the disciplines this might be one of the hardest to be consistent in, and one of the easiest to feel conviction about. Next time, we will continue our focus on this important discipline, and look at ways in which we can help boost our prayer life.