Maranatha Moments vol. 2

Mar 24, 2023

The Importance of Prayer

by Patrick Lynn

At Maranatha, we believe that prayer is a powerful and essential component of Christian camp ministry. It allows campers and staff members to connect with God, align themselves with His purposes, and participate in His work in the world. Life at camp, both during the summer season and during the winter “retreat” season, can vary a great deal: it can be some of the most fun, exciting, and life-giving experiences of a person’s life, or it can be dull or tedious. As our lives go through these changes, so too our approaches to prayer change. However, God extols us to always pray: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). 

Oftentimes prayer takes place only in specific circumstances: when we are frightened or anxious, when we are at a church service or in a ministry setting, or during times when prayer is an expectation, like before a meal or a meeting. The first two examples can be excused when we also understand that prayer should take place in all circumstances and seasons, but the last example can very frequently exemplify the opposite of what God desires for us; as Francis Chan writes, “Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

One of the most essential values of prayer is that it helps us align our hearts and minds with God’s purposes. Paul Tillich, a biblical scholar and philosopher, wrote that “In prayer, we participate in the creative, redemptive, and transformative work of God in the world.” Through prayer, we seek God’s guidance and direction for our lives, and we can surrender our own will to His. Through prayer, we can discern our own unique calling and gifts, and He inspires us to pursue lives of purpose and service. 

In addition to aligning individuals with God’s purposes, prayer also provides comfort and strength during times of challenge and difficulty. While camp is usually full of fun, adventure, and friendship, it can also create profound loneliness, isolation, and homesickness. Not every camper or summer staffer adjusts to the culture right away, and can feel very alone. When we turn to God in prayer, He doesn’t only provide for our needs in the physical world, but His very presence is a comfort. Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard once wrote, “The one who prays constantly is never alone, for they are always in the presence of God.” Whether we are struggling with homesickness, conflicts with peers, or other challenges, prayer offers a source of support and encouragement. By praying earnestly to God, we experience His profound love and grace, and we find the courage and resilience to persevere through even the toughest of circumstances. As Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Finally, prayer deepens our relationship with God and through it, we participate in His work in the world. By praying for others and for the world, align ourselves with God in bringing about real positive change and healing. Again Francis Chan writes, “When we pray, we are participating in God’s work on earth.” Let this be an inspiration to us to live lives of service and compassion, and let it motivate us to seek ways to make a difference in our communities and beyond.

So, what are some practical ways that we incorporate prayer into our daily lives at Maranatha? Here are a few ideas:

  • Starting each day with a time of individual or group prayer, as well as devotions or Scripture readings.
  • Incorporating prayer into various camp activities, such as before meals or before and after games and competitions.
  • Providing opportunities for campers and staff members to share their prayer requests and pray for one another. 
  • Offering times of corporate worship and prayer, such as night-time campfire services or Sunday morning chapel services.
  • Encouraging campers and staff members to spend time alone in prayer and reflection, and by providing quiet spaces to meditate on God’s word and listen to Him.
  • Creating and maintaining a prayer journal, to reflect on what we’ve talked to God about, and to better see and remember all the ways the Lord has provided for us in the past.

Prayer is a vital and necessary component of our ministry at Maranatha. When we incorporate prayer into our lives at camp, we create an environment that fosters spiritual growth, reflection, and transformation, and that inspires campers and staff members to pursue lives of Godly purpose and service. Once again we repeat the words of Francis Chan: “Prayer isn’t just something we do, it’s a way of life.” Let us continue to make the most of our opportunities and carry on a culture of prayer at Maranatha!