Why pray?

Christians do not pray enough. “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” (Matt. 6:7–8).

Why do we need to pray when God already knows what we need?

First, we should pray because God commands us to. We are to obey Him. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16–18). “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 6:18). The quality of our obedience is inextricably linked with the closeness of our walk with God. A major component of that walk is prayer. For a strong Christian life, look to the Lord continually. Seek His face. Pray the prayers of Scripture.

God has chosen us to fulfill His will. He taught us to pray for this fulfillment. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

The Bible is the story of God reconciling us to Himself. He wants to have a relationship with us. When you are in a relationship with someone, you talk to them. If we want a healthy relationship with God, we need to talk with Him, too. It is not enough to relegate prayer to church and our prayer group.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight” (Prov. 3:5 RSV, italics mine). We are absolutely dependent on God. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Many Christians forget this. God gave us brains, but not so that we could trust them. We are to trust Him. Make it the habit of your life to be constantly looking up to Him for guidance. Don’t let that be just a special event when you are in trouble or trying to make a big decision. “If you really believe in God, He will put all things right. He is both willing and able. Stop expecting the solution from yourself…and just yield yourself unreservedly to God to work in you. He will do all for you” (Andrew Murray). “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Ps. 32:8).

Nothing is too big to ask God, and nothing is too small to ask Him. If it is big enough to concern you, it is big enough to concern Him.

If there is anyone we might think wouldn’t need to pray, it is Jesus. He is God! But what do we find in the Bible? Jesus was constantly going up on a mountain or off into a deserted place to pray to the Father. Read through the Gospels, and you will find that He spent many late (or early) hours in prayer. His earthly ministry began with forty days of fasting and prayer (Mark 1:13). Before choosing His twelve disciples, Jesus spent the entire night in prayer (Luke 6:12–14). He gathered His disciples to pray with Him the night before His death (John 17). After His ascension, the disciples continued to meet regularly for prayer (Acts 1:4).

If you want the Lord to be more and more precious to you, start praying for His coming. In the next-to-last verse in the Bible, Jesus said, “I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20). John replies, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” For the next few days, pray every day, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” “But I don’t want Him to come; I’ve got things to do!” Begin praying for His return, and see if it cleans up your act. It will! “He who has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

John Owen, a great Puritan theologian, found that “many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not…constantly delight and rejoice in God—that there is still an indisposedness of spirit unto close walking with him…. So do this: set your thoughts on the eternal love of the Father and see if your heart is not aroused to delight in Him. Sit down for a while at this delightful spring of living water and you will soon find its streams sweet and delightful.”

Unless you have a delight and a desire to follow Jesus, nothing else you learn about being a Christian is going to work. It will just be mechanics. Get into the habit of praying. You may be surprised at the results. When I think about all the answers God has provided, I wonder that I am not praying every minute of the day.

This is the first chapter of my book Answered Prayer: The Faithfulness of God Made Manifest, which is available on Amazon, Audible, and at ccmbooks.org