Why should I pray? If God already knows my needs and has His plan, why should I pray about it?
It's true that God already knows about everything we could possibly need or ask for, but that is no reason not to talk to Him about it. Here's the thing, God wants to talk to you and hear from you (Philippians 4:6-7), and prayer is one of the best ways to stay in touch! You are one of His children after all; it would make sense to talk to your Heavenly Father.
Why We Pray
When we pray, we are bringing our problems and concerns to God so He can work through them with us (Hebrews 4:15-16). We're showing our willingness to be a part of the process of figuring things out and allowing God to direct us (James 5:16-18). Then when God reveals things to us as we pray, we can better understand what is happening and be ready to take action when He asks us to (Ephesians 6:18-19).
If we never pray, we take ourselves out of the picture and give up the opportunity to know what God wants us to do. That can be very dangerous because then Satan may begin to tell us lies that guide us in the wrong direction. Matthew 26:41 says, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
We always see Jesus praying in the Bible (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12-13; etc.), and the early church put a lot of importance on prayer too (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 13:1-3). One of the reasons why these facts are included the Bible is to show us how significant prayer is in the Christian life. Who wouldn't want to be in the know about God's plan for their life?
God Answers Prayers
When we pray for specific requests, God promises that He will answer (Matthew 6:6; Romans 8:26-27). Keep in mind that God is not some kind of blessing vending machine though. Yes, He will answer, and He might say yes, but He might instead answer no or not now. God's promise is to fulfill those requests that are lined up with His will (1 John 5:14-15).
If you don't get an answer, the Bible tells us to be diligent in our prayers (Luke 18:1-8). Matthew 7:7 says, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Again, this doesn't mean that if you keep pestering, God will do something that is against His will just to get you off His back. ;-)
It's hard to understand, but God's ways are much more complicated than we could ever realize (Isaiah 55:8-9). If you are praying for something that is in line with His will, but it seems like He isn't answering, keep praying! Maybe in this case, He wants you to learn to pray boldly until the time is right to fulfill the request. Maybe the prayers are an exercise that will strengthen your faith.
When We Don't Pray
The Bible tells us stories of people who prayed and received results. If they had not prayed, would God have fulfilled their requests? Well, we don't know. But look at these instances of answered prayer and decide if it would have been worth the risk not to pray:
- If the Syrian woman with the demon-influenced daughter had not prayed to Jesus, would her daughter have still been made whole (Mark 7:26-30)?
- If the blind man outside Jericho had not called out to Jesus, would he have remained blind (Luke 18:35-43)?
- If the father had not asked Jesus to heal his epileptic son, would the boy ever have been healed (Matthew 17:14-20)?
James 4:2-3 talks about how we will find ourselves going without if we do not ask or if we ask for the wrong reasons. Think of it this way: You will never have a prayer answered if you never pray at all.
There is no reason for the Christian to withhold prayer. God wants to hear from you (Psalm 145:18). He wants you to take an active part in playing out the events of your life (John 14:26). And He promises that He will work all things toward making us more like His Son (Romans 6:6).
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." — Ephesians 3:20-21
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