Today I thought I was going to deviate from the theme and then realized that one of the most important ways we serve one another is through prayer. Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus saying, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Prayer can be, and really should be, an important part of our Christian journey as we travel homeward.
Recently, I was in conversation with someone about this very thing. In that discussion, the question, “Why pray?” came up. This was not the first time I have heard this question, for it is something I have battled with at times in my walk with Christ. The battle in the mind goes something like this, “If God’s will is always going to be done, then why should I pray? He is going to do what He is going to do.” That sounds a little irreverent, and it may be, but this is how we may feel at times. Feelings may accurately describe where we are inwardly as we see our perceived reality, but be distorting the true reality that we actually live in. So, in order to answer the question “Why pray?”, we need to check our perceived reality against God’s reality.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1st John 4:8
How we perceive God is at the very core of one’s prayer life. We attribute qualities or characteristics to God that reveal His greatness: omnibenevolent (He is all loving), omnipotent (He is all powerful.) and omniscient (He is all-knowing). Jesus, as He prepares to teach His disciples about prayer, says, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) You may be thinking, “That verse merely supports the question, why pray.” Actually, the verse is merely stating the fact that our God knows what is best for us…always! Ideally, is that any different than a parent child relationship? But like a child who gets frustrated when he does not get what he wants, Christians can do the same: the result, a declining prayer life. But we need to remind ourselves of this, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9) God’s sovereignty is at the very center of a healthy prayer life.
Who is God to you? This is where we must begin if we are to honestly try and answer the question, “Why pray?” In a world where we are used to immediate gratification, where what we want (our perceived need) is a mere push of a button. Where needs and wants are skewed and eternity seldom part of the reality, we find ourselves at times challenged. You see, the very reason we do pray, is that we believe there is a God and he is sovereign. God knows best. Prayer is an act of faith in who we believe God to be.