Why should we pray?

Why should we pray?

The reason we pray is to build a personal relationship with God. God desires us to have intimate relationship with him and we in turn communicate to him through prayers. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven…” Prayer allows us to confess our sins which leads to repentance. God also invites us to talk to him in Jeremiah 29:12-13, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” We know from this verse that God knows everything in our lives and hears every prayer from those who trust in him. Relationships will not last without communication. The same is true with our relationship with God which will fail without prayer.

Prayer shows that we completely put our trust in God’s sovereignty.  As David says in  Psalm 145:18-19 “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desires of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.” Also in Luke 11:10 “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” That is God’s promise to those who call upon him and trust in him. He already knows our innermost desires and thoughts even before we call out to him. When we present these requests to him through prayer, we show that we are trusting in his will whether he fulfills them or not. We still place our trust in him even when God says no because he knows what is best for us. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is clear instruction for us not to worry or to be anxious but to instead humbly bring our requests to the Lord and offer thanksgiving for what He has done. We would then have peace in the Lord without being anxious because we know and trust that God will work things out for our good. God commands us to  “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  To pray without ceasing is to pray regularly; we trust God always and not just occasionally when we need help.  By praying, we surrender our will to God and trust in His sovereignty.  

We pray because Jesus prayed. The Scriptures are full of references where Jesus prayed fervently to the Father in submission to his will.  Mark 1:35 says “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” (Luke 6:12). It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23).  There are many more verses on Jesus praying through which we would do well to learn from Him. If Jesus who has all authority and power in heaven and Earth still submits to God the Father in prayer, then how much more should we who are sinners pray to God and depend on His grace.

Jesus promises to answer our prayers when we abide in His words. John 15:7 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This promise is conditional on whether or not we are living in obedience to His Word.

Also in Luke 18: 1-8 Jesus told a parable to demonstrate the importance of persistence in prayer. Like the widow who persisted until her request was granted, we should also persistently cry out to the Lord without losing heart.  Luke 18:7 says, “now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?”

We need to pray with sincerity and a pure heart.  Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear.”  The Lord already knows our heart and he will not hear our prayer if we regard iniquity in our hearts. We need to pray with total humility and a repentant heart.  Psalm 32: 1-6 says, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!” When we confess our sins to God in prayer rather than hide them, we will find peace and happiness because we know that the bible says God will forgive us of our sins.  Psalm 32:6 says, “Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You a time when You may be found.” We are not only given peace and forgiveness but also protection and instruction from God.  Verses 7-11 says “You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.  I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” The Lord promises to protect us, preserve us when we are in trouble. He will direct and counsel us on how we should live.  Verse 10 says, “But he who trusts in the Lord, loving kindness shall surround him.” God promises all these blessings to those who pray to him in humility and repentance.

We pray to God for our sins and ask for forgiveness with a genuinely repentant heart as David said in Psalm 51, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions…” We should have the same attitude and contrite heart like David had here whenever we sin. We turn to God in prayer right away and humbly hope for God to be gracious and merciful to us. He then asked for God to cleanse his sins in verse 2, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. And cleanse me from my sin.” And verse 7 says, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” He also knows the seriousness of his sin. Verse 3-6 says, “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight…” When we sin, we sin against God – there is no greater offense imaginable. David then prayed for more forgiveness and renewal from God.  Psalm 51: 12-14 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me…12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” Here David sincerely asked God for  a heart and spirit that are new, clean, and right again with God. David asked for joy again in His salvation and help to grow in his faithfulness. We can confess our sins with hope and thankfulness because we know that God has promised to forgive us of our sins and give us a clean heart and steadfast spirit.  

Acts 2:42 says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – like the believers in the early church, we should also be continually devoting ourselves to 1) apostles’ teaching, 2) fellowship, 3) breaking of bread, and 4) devotion to prayer.  In prayer, we do not just share our thoughts and what we want God to do for us.  Ephesians 6:18 says, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” We should pray in submission to God and “be on the alert” to set aside time to pray to God regularly. We should also persistently pray to God in everything.  He wants us to come to him even in small matters.  We do not pray for only ourselves, but in the same sincere persistent heart, we pray “for all the saints” and all the needs that they may have. When we pray, we should pray for boldness like the early church in Acts 4:23-31.  There it says that “they lifted their voices to God with one accord” (v.24). We should not pray silently but vocally and in unity with other believers to the Lord.  Verse 29-30 says, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” Here, the early church believers asked for confidence and boldness to speak His Word.  God granted them their request and they were filled with spirit to speak His Word with boldness (v.31).

Post by Thao Mai