In the last post we discovered that prayer is an important way to develop a relationship with Jesus, and that this is the primary reason to pray.
Getting to know God is reason enough to pray! But let’s look at three additional reasons.
1. Prayer reminds us that everything we have comes from God.
Whether we’re asking for something we need, or thanking Him for something we have, we are acknowledging that He is the one who provides for us. We are reminded that while we are told to be diligent in our work, what we have is not by our efforts but by God’s grace.
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17
In addition to our homes and families and all the things we have, comfort also comes from God.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29
When we pray we are reminded that it is to God we should turn for all our needs.
2. Prayer is one way we work alongside God.
I used to belong to a prayer group that had a beautiful way of praying. We would pray about one thing at a time, and everyone would have a chance to pray about that one thing before we all moved on to the next item. I remember sitting in this rather large group, feeling somewhat intimidated. But I felt very strongly that I was to pray something specific about the topic at hand. I don’t remember what the topic was, but I definitely remember feeling prompted by the Spirit to pray. I hesitated because I was worried about what the others would think of my prayer. (Yes, I know how ridiculous that is!) After several minutes of wrestling within myself about this, someone across the room prayed the exact thing I had been prompted to pray. I can’t describe the sinking feeling I had in that moment of having completely missed the opportunity to be part of what God was doing. He had invited me in and I had turned Him down!
Even if God will do what He will do regardless of whether we pray, if we don’t pray, He will call someone else to work with Him and we will be left out of the blessing of working alongside God to accomplish His purpose.
God has chosen to work through His people, so He invites us to work alongside Him through prayer as well as through our actions (like sharing the gospel with friends and volunteering at church, for example). As we pray, we are stepping into the work God has invited us to participate in. And He will bless us for that.
I want to pause for a moment to explain that last comment. When God blesses us, sometimes He gives us unexpected things. But often it is not tied to anything material. There are many ways God blesses us. For example, He may give us greater faith, deeper joy, strength in hardship, friends who stand by us, etc. God knows you very well, so you can be sure that however He chooses to bless you, your life will be better because of it.
What we do only matters when we join God in what He is doing. Even Jesus only did what the Father was doing. When we pray we are joining Him in His work. That is a powerful thing!
So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. John 5:19
3. Yes, prayer does make a difference.
The big question about prayer is always, “Does prayer really change anything?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
Let’s look at a few examples of this in Scripture.
Hannah prayed for a son and God gave her Samuel.
And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut. 1 Samuel 1:11
Peter’s friends prayed for his release from prison. Read what happened:
But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Acts 12:5-7
The lives of Daniel and his friends were saved because they prayed.
Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. Daniel 2:17-18
Make no mistake: God can do whatever He wants to do. He doesn’t need us. But He has chosen to work through the prayers of His people. If those stories aren’t enough to convince you, here’s what James said about prayer:
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops. James 5:16b-18
Elijah was as human as we are. Reading the story of Elijah’s life we could easily see him as superhuman. He must have been a man of incredible faith for God to do so many amazing things through him! Yet James reminds us that he was just as human as we are. His point is that God will work through anyone who trusts Him and calls on His name.
What prayer have you been afraid to ask? Is there something you think might be too hard for God? Do you doubt that God will answer your prayer? I encourage you to take that thing to Him. He may not answer the way you want, but He will answer. And your faith will grow. Every time.