' “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ’ ' Matthew 6:9-13 NIV
Christians claim that God is all-powerful, all-knowing (even if we find all of that hard to experience).
'And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ' Matthew 6:7-8 NIV
But if God already knows what we need and is in charge why do we need to pray at all?
Let me see if I can help.
God has given us a free will. We always have a choice. We can choose to pray and communicate with Him or not. God will never force Himself on you if you don’t want Him.
Yes God knows our thoughts, but He responds to our prayers. The privilege of prayer is ours but the power of prayer is God’s. Without God, we can’t do it. Without us, God won’t do it.”
Plus prayer is not a grocery list of wants or a way to change God’s mind, but to deepen our relationship with God. We pray to remind ourselves of our place of humility, to remind ourselves that God is God, and we are not. Prayer changes us not God. God loves us enough to want to transform me into all that He created us to be, but we must cooperate in that transformation. Every time I pray, I cooperate just a little bit more.”
We’re invited and commanded to pray
Both the invitation and command are real and for our benefit. Our dependence on God leads us to ask for what we need.
We should presume on God’s automatic care, but we should rather come in trusting dependence to ask for what we need.
' “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! ' Matthew 7:7-11
We want to align with God’s will
We want to be in line with God’s will, and prayer is not so much about changing God’s mind as it is to bring ourselves into alignment with God’s heart.
'Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. ' Philippians 2:12-13 NIV (emphasis mine)
It’s okay to keep asking
As we align with God’s will, it’s okay to keep calling on asking on behalf of others and ourselves. In fact God expects us to continue asking.
'Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” ' Luke 18:1-8 NIV
There is nothing wrong with repeatedly asking for the same thing. As long as what you are praying for is within the will of God, keep asking until God grants your request or removes the desire from your heart. Sometimes God forces us to wait for an answer to our prayers in order to teach us patience and perseverance. Sometimes we ask for something when granting it is not yet in God’s timing for our lives. Sometimes we ask for something that is not God’s will for us keep on asking, keep on knocking, and keep on seeking until God grants your request or convinces you that your request is not His will for you.
If you have any doubt about the importance of prayer or if you are still praying on an on-again/off-again basis, go through the fifteen reasons to pray below.
1. To seek the face of the Lord and know Him better - 'My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord , I will seek. ' Psalms 27:8
2. To get your eyes off your problems and onto the Lord - 'I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? ' Psalms 121:1
3. To speak to God - 'For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” '1 Peter 3:12
4. To unburden your heart - 'I cry aloud to the Lord ; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. ' Psalms 142:1-2
5. To make your requests known to God - 'If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” ' Matthew 21:22
6. To hear God - 'Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. ' Proverbs 8:34
7. To be free of suffering - 'Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. ' James 5:13
8. To resist temptation - '“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” ' Matthew 26:41
9. To be rescued from distress - 'Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. ' Psalms 107:19
10. To receive God’s reward - 'But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ' Matthew 6:6
11. To withstand evil - 'Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. ' Ephesians 6:13
12. To have joy - ('Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. ' John 16:24
13. To get close to God - 'No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. ' Isaiah 64:7
14. To be healed emotionally - 'Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 'James 5:13
15. To have peace - 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 'Philippians 4:6-7
Once you pray about something, put it in God’s hands. That doesn’t mean you don’t pray about it again; it just means that you have laid that burden at the Lord’s feet. The answer will always come, although it might not be in the way you expect or according to your timing. Most important, you have spent time in the Lord’s presence, where you can hear God speak to you about His will for your life.