The Purpose of Prayer

The Purpose of Prayer

It could easily be said that Christian ministry is, or at least should be, driven by prayer.  It seems fitting, then, that the first post on our blog is about prayer.  But does prayer actually make a difference?  If God already knows what we need, why do we need to tell Him?  If He is sovereign, why does prayer matter?

When we ask these questions, and all of us have asked them, it’s generally because we’re looking at prayer from the wrong angle.  We’re asking “what good is prayer” because we think the only “good” that can come from prayer is the answer we’re looking for. 

If I pray that my grandpa will be healed from his cancer, and he isn’t, what good was it to pray for him?

If I pray for a good mark on my exam, but I fail, what good was praying?

There’s nothing wrong with taking our concerns and desires to God and asking Him to heal or provide or help us pass a test.  In fact, Scripture instructs us to do this.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Philippians 4:6

God wants us to take our needs and concerns to Him.  But there is much more to prayer than that.  The “good” that comes from prayer is far greater than receiving the answer we want.

So what is that “good”?  Why should we pray?

First we need to establish that we do, in fact, need to pray.  Whatever the reason (and we’ll look at some reasons below and in the next post) God has told us to pray.

Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.  1 Chronicles 16:11

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.  James 5:13

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.  Romans 12:12

 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.  Colossians 4:2

Over and over God tells us to pray and keep praying.  Since God said it, we could stop right here.  It should be enough to obey what God has told us to do.  However, there is nothing wrong with asking why…while obeying.

So, what is the reason God told us to pray?  Does He just like the sound of our voices?

Well, partly yes.  Scripture tells us that God wants a relationship with us.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.  Revelations 3:20

I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people” Leviticus 26:12

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.  John 15:15

Think about a good friend.  How did you become friends?  How did your friendship grow?  My guess is that you spent some time together.  Probably a lot of time.  It’s pretty hard to develop a friendship without spending time talking with each other.  In fact, it’s impossible. 

But God knows everything about me already so why is this so important?

It’s true that God knows everything about you.  In fact, He knew everything about you even before you were born!

Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. Psalm 139:1 (read the whole Psalm to see just how much God knows about you!)

But God doesn’t want a one-sided relationship where He knows all about us but we don’t know much about Him.  Who would want a “friendship” like that?

No, God wants us to get to know Him as well.  Through that knowledge we learn how to live well, as He intended.  But first, we need to spend time with God in order to get to know Him.  Sharing our struggles and our joys is how friends learn about each other, and through that they become closer.  With God, we do this through reading our Bible, fellowshipping with others who love Him, and through prayer.  And this is the primary reason to pray. 

Take a moment to really think about your relationship, or friendship, with God.  Do you spend time with Him?  Is getting to know Him a priority for you? 

God wants to call you friend.  How amazing is that!  When He calls us to pray, it is in part because He wants us to move closer to Him and to get to know Him more.  Spend some time in prayer today, thanking God for His love and friendship.  Tell Him you want to get to know Him more.

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