One of the most basic questions on prayer is this: “Why bother to pray?”
Does prayer really change things? Does prayer really make a difference?
Many people get stuck and don’t pray because they have the wrong concept of prayer. They ask philosophical questions instead of relationship questions.
The questions aren’t: “If God knows everything – why must we ask for things in prayer? Does God really need to be informed? Is prayer merely data transmission?“ These philosophical questions have their place. But they don’t come first.
The primary question is: “If the Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier), created me, saved me and loves me, how can I not pray?!” Prayer is about our relationship with God long before it considers cause-and-effect or the dynamic relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.
Why bother to pray?
Prayer “Centers” Us.
We bring ourselves to every relationship. Are we bringing our “whole self,” or just “partial attention”? Centering is being truly “present” in the moment. Centering means focusing our attention and energy, our heart, mind and body on the ultimate priority of life: our relationship with the Lord. (In other words, put your phone away!).
Centering in prayer is like taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling. Simply stepping back to focus on the Lord often brings a sense of peace. Try it now.
“Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10).
Prayer is like “getting up on the balcony,” to use an image from Harvard MBA professor Ron Heifetz.
In high school I played first trumpet in the marching band. We learned all kinds of formations for half time shows (which were watched by our parents only!). On the field, it seemed like chaos. But from the stands people could see, understand and appreciate the patterns.
When we pray, we not only step back to catch our breath, but we climb up to a higher place.
This is one reason Jesus spent nights in prayer as he sought wisdom about his ministry, as when he selected his 12 disciples (Luke 6:12-16).
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1: 5 NIV).
The ultimate and fundamental reason we “bother to pray” is because…
Prayer Connects Us with God
Prayer centers us and clarifies things because we connect with God.
Prayer is not like making a list for Santa Claus! Prayer is like a conversation with your best friend, cherished mentor, loving parent.
This is a time for a brief comment on one of those philosophical questions: “If God knows, why ask?”
The answer lies in the fact that prayer is not about information.
Prayer is conversation with the Living Lord. Jesus’ prayed earnestly, not because he needed something, but because he wanted to talk with his Father.
“… Your Father know what you need before you ask him. This, then is how you should pray: ‘Our Father…’” (Matthew 6:9).
Prayer begins not with something we want to ask of God, but with something God wants to ask of us!
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:15-17 NLT).
Prayer is not ultimately about making requests and getting answers. Prayer brings us into heart fellowship with the Living Lord as beloved daughters and sons.