Our question this week is one that has been asked often. Jesus said God the Father knows what we need before we ask. (Mt. 6:8). So, why do we have to pray? Why doesn’t God just give us what we need without asking? Why does God require that we pray? The TWOT tells us there are at least a dozen different words for prayer. What is common in each of these words is that it is the communication between God and man . So why do we pray? There are several reasons.
- Prayer is an indication of relationship with God. When we are in relationship with people, we communicate with them on a regular basis. And the same is with prayer. Prayer is our way of communicating with God and showing that we have relationship with Him. John’s Epistle tells us 1 John 5:14–15 — 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. We speak and God hears and God responds, just like in our earthly relationships. It is evident in Scripture that God has created man to have relationship with Him. He communed on a daily basis with Adam and Eve. He spoke with Abraham and Moses. He gave dreams to Joseph, poetry and songs to David and the whisper of the still small voice to Elijah. He gave us the Holy Spirit to indwell us so that we could have “God within”. God wants to have relationship with mankind and prayer is the vehicle of communication God has chosen to promote and propagate that relationship. Can you imagine the type of relationship two people would have if they never spoke to each other? The same is true about our relationship with God. Not only do we get to talk with Him, He will talk back to us.
- God wants to show us “hidden” things that He will only show us via the vehicle of prayer. Jeremiah 33:3 tells us that if we call on Him, He will answer us and show us great and hidden things that we do not know. Again, God is wanting to talk with us and us with Him. He desires to show us things that we do not know. He is wanting relationship with us. I have used this verse may times over the years when I needed to know a specific answer about something going on in my life. While in college, I would pray and ask the Lord to show me what I needed to study for my exams. I would remind the Lord that He promised if I called upon Him, He would show me things that I do not know and time after time He showed me exactly what I needed to study. At other times, I would ask Him to help me solve problems in my work, and He did. He is faithful to His Word, but all of these answers came as a direct result of faith filled prayer. We live in confusing times and often we need answers to stressful situations in life. We may need help with our marriage or our finances or our children and not know where to begin. God promises to answer.
- We are commanded to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing. In Luke 18:1, Jesus taught His disciples the importance of praying and not giving up. There are many examples of Jesus spending much time in prayer. (Mt. 14:23; Mt. 26:36-42; Mark 1:35; Mark 6:46; Mark 14:32; Luke 5:16, etc.) Jesus set the example for the importance of prayer. Do we have a prayer life or do we have a life of prayer. Someone once said of John “Praying” Hyde, “the secret to his prayer life was that he had a life of prayer”. The power of our prayer life is determined by the consistency in our life of prayer. Jesus had a consistent prayer life and so should we. We are commanded to pray and if Jesus needed to pray, so do we. Jesus told His disciples to “ask and keep on asking’. (Mt. 7:7-8) This means consistent and persistent prayer is required to see God move in our life. James 5:16 tells us the prayer of a righteous man works. So we are commanded to pray so that God can work in the earth.
- Prayer is a privilege! Prayer is a privilege because God allows us to come into His Presence and commune with Him. Why would we not want to pray? The blood of Jesus has opened the way so that we can come boldly into the Presence of God. (Heb. 4:16) God the Father is not inaccessible to us. He has privileged us with the freedom to approach His throne day or night. The Scripture tells us Psalm 34:15 the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3-4) and is always available to hear our prayers. What an awesome privilege to know that God cares enough that He is always available. You do not have to ring up your pastor to connect to God. He is available and waiting to hear from you.
So why do we pray? It’s God’s idea. John Wesley said God does nothing but by answer to prayer. God works through man in the earth and prayer is the key tool that God uses. Jesus declared that churches would be “houses of prayer”, not houses of music, Bible study or programs….but prayer! These other things are very important, but they are not the critical thing…prayer is!
There are so many Scriptures and stories in the Bible of how God used prayers from the mouths of people to change situations. There are so many stories through the ages of how God has allowed prayer to bring revivals and shift nations I frequently ask our church, “What don’t you have today that you would have, had you prayed?” How would our nation be today if the church had really prayed? How would families in our nation be today, had they been families of prayer. Dr. W. B. Anderson, a missionary to India, was once asked why so many had not heard the name of Jesus and why there seemed to be the remotest chance that they would hear of Him? His response was “because prayer closets are deserted, family altars are broken down, and pulpit prayers are formal and dead!” Let’s answer the call to pray!
Pastor Donna Wise