Meanderings of a Minister

Why Do We Pray?


Over the last several weeks, our church has been going through a series on prayer dealing with the answer to the question, “Why do we pray?”  Unlike many series on prayer that just mainly deal with a definition and examples of prayer, this mini-series deals with the issue, why do we pray at all?  While there could be a plethora of responses to this question, the four reasons we have looked at include the fact that God communicates through speech, we could not before we were saved, we can now because we are adopted into God’s family, and because God sees, hears, knows, is sovereign, and has a plan that prayer plugs into.

The first reason we pray at all is because God communicates.  If you look up the phrase “God spoke” or a combination of words that convey the same thought, you would find all throughout the Bible that God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity through words.  We even call the book we use for understanding Him and life, God’s Word, and indeed it is just that.  Why do we call it God’s Word?  Because God spoke and wanted us to know Him and His character and His way.  When we pray, we are imitating this aspect of God’s character in that we are speaking.  We are taking out thoughts, which He knows already, encoding them into language, transmitting them through words so that they are experienced outside of us.

Additionally, we pray because we used to not be able to.  Prayer is the privilege of the believer.  Psalm 66:18 says that sin regarded in the heart (the condition of every unconverted person that has ever lived), causes God to turn His back on your prayer.  1 Corinthians 2:14 says that the unregenerate man considers the things of God foolishness anyway.  Before we were saved, we were lost (Luke 15), dead (Ephesians 2:1), enemies of God (Romans 5:10), alienated from God (Colossians 1:21).  In that state, we could not pray, nor would we have wanted to other than just to rub the lamp and try to get God to be the genie granting wishes of pride, avarice, greed, and such that were already destroying us.  We used to not be able to pray.

Although all of that was true for every person born since Adam (Romans 5), now, we are children of God (Romans 8:16), born again (John 3:3), indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12), and acceptable to God (Romans 14:18).  We used to not be able to pray, but we can now!  Why do we pray?  Because we have a relationship with God and have been adopted into His family (Galatians 4:1-7).  We have the wonderful privilege of speaking to our Father about the things that cause us to be anxious (Philippians 4:6).  We can talk to God and cast all our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7).  We can be transformed in our thinking (Psalm 73, Romans 12:1-2).  We can express all of this to God as we talk to Him, imitating Him, and expressing appreciation for all He has done for us.

Lastly, we pray because God can see, hear, know, is sovereign, and has a plan.  Now, some of this might seem elementary, as Sherlock Holmes used say in the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, think about this.  In Isaiah 46, God told the Israelites they were going to be restored after He punished their sin.  The reasons He gave them was that, unlike their idols, He could see, hear, know them, was in charge, and had a plan.  One might think, if God already has a plan, then why pray?  Actually, I think the better question would be, “If God doesn’t have a plan, then why pray?”  If God cannot see what is going on, cannot hear the cries of creation for its Creator, is not in charge, and has no plan until we pray, then He is basically learning as He goes and is not God.  In fact, we pray because we believe God can act.  We pray because we believe He makes a difference.

The next time you bow your head, maybe it might be appropriate to thank God for speaking to us through His Word, to thank Him for saving you from sin, hell, death, and the grave.  Maybe it would appropriate to thank Him for the privilege of prayer as access to the throne.  Maybe we should thank Him and confess to Him the things He already knows, but desires to hear from us.  Let this be the fuel for more and better prayer.


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