Why Do We Pray?

(originally posted 10/21/2015 at littlegirlriseup.blogspot.com)

I read a Facebook post the other day in which someone asked why we pray to God. They said, “if God knows everything, and God has a plan, why do people pray to ask Him for things? I can understand praying to Him to thank Him, but praying for Him to change His plan, or to give you something, like a nice house…?”

God does know everything and He does have a plan. Scripture says God has declared, “the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.” (Isaiah 46:10). So if God already has a plan, why do we pray, asking Him for things? The two main reasons we pray are to:

  1. Communicate with God
  2. To be a part of God’s plan

Before anyone can truly understand the purpose and function of prayer, they must first understand the purpose and function of mankind. Despite what the world would like you to believe, the sole purpose of creation itself, the universe and everything in it, all that is seen and unseen, was for God to have an eternal relationship with human beings. Human beings are the reason existence even exists. All of it. Scripture says that God created the earth for men to have dominion over it (Gen 1:26). We were the last thing God created and we are the only thing He created in His own image. We are the apex of all creation, His magnum opus. Scripture says that even the angels were created to serve God’s purpose for those who choose salvation, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb 1:14). It’s seriously mind-blowing when you think about it. Earth may not be the center of the solar system or even the galaxy, but for all intents and purposes we are truly the center of God’s universe. Yet so many people have an aversion to such a notion and find it to be preposterous. Which is more preposterous, that we are of no value and have no reason for existence at all, or that we are of intrinsic value and are the very reason for existence itself?

Before the fall of mankind, we had direct, intimate fellowship with God. Adam spoke to God face to face. When Adam was faced with the opportunity for rebellion against God, God said don’t take part in it, “for when you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:17). The moment Adam and Eve “tasted” rebellion, not only did they somehow kick on the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, introducing entropy into the closed system of creation, thus introducing physical decay, death and disorder, but they also died spiritually, losing direct fellowship with God. But God had a plan already in place for us to regain some similitude of that face-to-face fellowship with Him. That plan was prayer. The fact that even Jesus prayed should show the value and necessity of prayer. God as a human, praying to Himself as God…..wrap your brain around that one.  Jesus is God, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:9,10). So if Jesus is God in human form, then why, in essence, did He continually pray to Himself in eternal form? Because Jesus was operating through God’s plan. Read again, “the Father abiding in Me does His works.”  Jesus tells us we have the same relationship with Him, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).  Apart from Jesus, we have no part in His plan.

Prayer is not what we want from God, but what God wants from us. God wants to have intimate fellowship with us and for us to be a part of His plan and we can’t do that unless our will is lined up with His. Jesus told us how to pray and when He did He said the first thing we should do is praise Him, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name..” The next thing He said we are to do is to ask for our will to line up with His, not for His will to line up with ours, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That is where most of us fail in prayer. However, Jesus did not fail. He succeeded beautifully in the Garden of Gethsemane when praying about His coming crucifixion, Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). Of all the examples of Jesus being fully God and fully man, this one speaks the loudest. He fully experienced the weakness and anxieties of mankind, while fully seeking and submitting Himself to His own plan. A plan that happened to include a horrible and humiliating end, but it was that end that would reconcile us and all of creation back into right fellowship with Him through the atoning sacrifice of His human form.  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” (2 Cor 5:17,18).

Scripture says that we are not to seek after worldly things, because it is the unbelievers who are concerned about all these things; but your Father knows that you need these things.” (Luke 12:30). God knows our needs before we ask Him (Matt 6:32). Instead we are told to, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33). So prayer isn’t about what we can “get” from God, but what we can “do” for God. What we “do” for God is seek His kingdom, His will and His plan, and God will “do” for us. Sometimes that includes giving us things or even re-routing His plan, but not always. Regardless, God desires for us to be a part of His plan and we involve ourselves in that plan through prayer. Prayer can be likened to “brainstorming” with God, but in submission that His ideas will always take precedence over ours. Prayer can be likened to having a conversation with God, but allowing Him to choose the subject. God desires for us to bring Him our complaints, our sorrows, our requests and our praise. That is what you do when you are in a relationship with someone, and what kind of relationship would it be if the other person didn’t listen to or consider your point of view?

Prayer is “relationship” with God. Prayer is coming before the eternal Creator and being granted His audience and His consideration. The very notion that the God of the universe considers our requests and hears our cries is mind-numbing. Scripture says:  “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them.” (Psalm 34:17) and The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.” (Psalm 145:18,19).

These verses tell us that God’s plan includes hearing the righteous, that His plan is to fulfill the desire of those who fear Him and that He plans to be near to all who call upon Him in truth. What is truth? Jesus said He is Truth, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (John 14:6,7)