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If God knows what I need, why should I pray?

Just as the Bible is important for teaching us about who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and who we are in Him, so also is prayer a key part of building a deeper and abiding relationship with God.  When we read the Bible, God speaks to us.  When we pray, we speak to God.  

We know that we can pray directly to God and that He hears us (More about praying directly to God. Read, “Why Do Catholics Pray to Saints?”).   We long to hear God’s voice.  But do we also remember that God desires to hear our voices?  The God of the universe, the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God of all creation invites us into His presence to speak to Him and to share with Him all that is on our hearts.

Our Purpose in Life?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers the question, “What is the chief end of man?” with this statement:

“To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” 

Every person who belongs to Jesus should strive to live their lives for God’s glory.  In doing so they will find joy in Him.  Prayer is one way in which we can glorify and enjoy God.  

Why Pray?

Read about this year’s National Day of Prayer. Watch an adorable puppy pray, thanking God for food.

It’s sometimes easy to fall into the trap of thinking, God knows my every thought and all my needs.  He loves me and has promised to care for me.  So why do I need to pray?  If God is immutable (without changing) and He is eternal and omniscient (knowing the beginning from the end), then why should I ask for something He might not be willing to give me?  Or why would I tell Him about things He already knows?  Why should I tell Him of my cares, if I trust He is good and cares for me?

These are reasonable questions.  They exhibit an understanding of the sovereignty of God over all creation and His goodness and kindness, His mercy and love, as well as the gifts of abundant grace that He gives us every day. 

So why should we pray?  The reasons for praying are both biblical and personal.  

Biblical Reasons to Pray

The first mention of prayer is found in Genesis 4:

Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

Seth was the son of Adam and Eve who had enjoyed perfect communion with God in the Garden prior to their disobedient sin.  Once sin entered the world, man found it necessary to seek God, “to call upon His name,” to guide and direct them and to discern His will for their lives. We too must call upon His name.  Not because God won’t guide us, but because we will more readily receive His guidance and direction. 

Prayer is a necessary part of communion with God.  It is a time of asking of God and receiving from God.  It is also an exercise of faith—knowing and believing that God hears and answers according to His good will and love for us.  With each passing generation, man has become further removed from God and His ways. He increasingly follows the secular culture and is all too often overcome by worldly influences. Prayer returns our focus to Jesus and enables us to turn from the world.

There are many reasons that God has given us prayer, and many reasons that we should pray.  As you read through the following reasons, consider the importance of prayer in your life and allow these reasons to become personal and to motivate you to a more frequent and deeper prayer life.

We are Invited to Pray

Psalm 50:15  And call upon me in the day of trouble…

Jeremiah 29:12  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me…

Matthew 7:7-11 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

We are Commanded to Pray

Matthew 5:44  …pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…

Mark 13:33  Take ye heed, watch and pray:

Luke 18:1  And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Ephesians 6:18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…

Rom 12:12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Colossians 4:2  Continue in prayer,

1 Thessalonians 5:17  Pray without ceasing.

1 Timothy 2:8  I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

We are to Respond to God’s Invitation and Command

We are invited and commanded to pray because God loves us and desires a prayer relationship with us.  When He calls us to something we are to respond as the prophet Isaiah did, “here am I.”  (Isaiah 6:8)  Responding to God in prayer is not only an act of obedience, it is also an act of honor given to the One who gave His all for us.

Jesus Prayed

We are told that in our walk of sanctification we are being conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29).  Prayer was a regular part of the Lord’s daily life and it is to be part of ours also. 

Jesus prayed because He was living in a human body.  When Jesus set aside His divinity (Philippians 2:7), He no longer shared the union with God that He had in glory.  Prayer for Jesus, was just as it is for us, a personal way of communicating with God.  

Let His example be a motivation to seek God early in all things.

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” –Matthew 14:23

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’” –Matthew 26:36

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” –Mark 1:35

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” –Luke 5:16

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” –Luke 6:12

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” –Luke 18:1

There is Power in Prayer

The power in prayer is not a power that comes from the act of prayer.  It is a power that flows from the One to whom we pray.  In our impotent humanity, we are blessed to be able to reach upward to God in prayer knowing that He hears.  In His omnipotence He responds and we receive—that’s the power of prayer! Prayer unleashes a deeper communion with God in our hearts and it comforts our souls.  It grows a richer faith in who He is, and unleashes power in us to live our lives in service to Him and others.  The power is not in our petition. The power comes from His response and a confidence in knowing He is ever-present with us.

John 14:13-14 – And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 

1 John 5:14-15 – And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:  

James 1:5 – If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 5:16  …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Luke 11:9 – And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

How Should We Pray?

God loves our prayers and He desires us to enter into closer communion with Him through prayer. There is no required method of prayer.  It truly is simply a conversation with our Father in Heaven. 

Prayers can be long or short, petitions or praises, questions or affirmations. Prayers can be for oneself or for another.  They can be from a joyous heart, a downcast heart, a repentant heart, or a broken heart,  but all prayer should be in reverence of God and with a desire to submit to His will.  That will produce prayers of trusting faith, knowing God will hear and believing He will answer.  (A beautiful pattern of trinitarian prayer can be found here: What are the various types of prayer? How should I pray?)

The prayer of the upright is the Lord’s delight.   Proverbs 15:8  

Pray often.  Pray reverently and fervently.  

Wait upon the Lord—He answers prayers.  

Give thanks.

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