Since God is sovereign, why pray? What is the purpose of prayer according to the Bible?
What is prayer?
Prayer is a bit like talking to someone on a very personal and private basis. We communicate with people everyday by talking to them but what about God? He knows all of our thoughts and intentions from the heart anyway. Since he knows our thoughts, why pray to God and especially since he predestined the things in our life? Why? This is because Jesus commanded us to pray (Luke 18: 1). Prayer is like a direct line to heaven, but Jesus is our mediator and gives us access to the Father (Heb 4:16). This is why Jesus tells us to pray in his name. In John 14: 13-14 he says “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, that the Son may glorify the Father. You can ask me anything on my behalf, and I will.“If you wanted to talk to your best friend, you would call and pour out your heart for him. I have a friend who says things to me that he does not say to any other. He knows he can trust me not to chatter about what he shares with me. I keep what he tells me confidential. The same goes for praying to God… it is talking to God and pouring out our hearts to Him. It is telling Him all our fears, concerns, anxieties and worries and not withholding anything. It is asking for things we cannot do on our own and asking for His help in things we are unable to affect. Prayer is speaking to God through Jesus Christ.
As I mentioned earlier, why should we pray since God has determined the outcome of things in our life since He is sovereign over everything? We don’t change God’s mind through our prayers… prayer changes us but it can change circumstances, so God wants us to pray to it. How many times? Paul says “pray without ceasing“(1 Thess 5:17)”And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”(Eph 6: 18a). Daniel prayed without ceasing. Jesus was a man of prayer once praying all night and once “he went to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued to pray to God“(Luke 6:12) and”Jesus would often retreat to secluded places and pray(Luke 5:16). Once after a long day of ministry “After dismissing them, he went up the side of a mountain alone to pray. Later that night he was there alone”(Mt 14:23). If Jesus saw the need to pray, then how much do we need too? We have a much greater need for prayer since we need to “Give all your worries and worries to God because he cares about what happens to you”(1 Peter 4: 7).
Pray in his will
Paul tells us to “Always rejoice, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; because it is the will of God for you in Jesus Christ“(1 Thess 5: 16-18) and to pray to the Father that his”will be done, on earth as in heaven(Matthew 6:10). We know that “there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ»(1 Tim 2: 5) therefore we have direct access to the throne room of heaven (Heb 4:16). God really wants to hear from us, but the psalmist’s desire to pray to God as he wrote was alsoHear my voice in the morning, Lord. Every morning I bring you my requests and look forward to”(Psalm 5: 3). How will we know that God hears us? We can have “trust that we have in him, that if we ask something according to his will, he will hear us”(1 John 5:14). We know that the will of God is in the scriptures, so the more you are in the Word of God, the more you will know the will of God. It is his will that we pray and that Jesus be glorified and that God desires that all men and women be saved (1 Tim 2: 4) so that we can pray for these things and know that they are the will. of God. Praying to God that more laborers enter into the harvest of human souls is clearly the will of God because Jesus once said “sincerely pray the master of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest(Luke 10: 2b).
The purpose of prayer
Part of knowing God’s will is knowing the scriptures, and we can know not only what to pray for, but also the purpose of our prayer. An example is 1st Thessalonians 5:18 who say that we must “give thanks in all circumstances; because it is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you. “When our will aligns with the will of God, then we can discover that our purpose in life is His purpose for us. Part of that purpose is the need to confess our sins to God (1 John 1: 9) so that we can be cleansed and have a good conscience before God. There is no better feeling than to be pure before God since He already knows our sins anyway. Confessing them means agreeing with God about them. I always felt better when I had offended my friend to go to him and admit to him that I was wrong and confess my fault or my sin in front of him. A pure conscience is a pure conscience. there is nothing that inhibits the mind more than unconfessed sin and guilt. To have a clean slate is to be in fellowship with Him. No child of God can lose their relationship with God, but unconfessed sin can us to lose our communion with Him.
If I don’t pray, then I am cut off from my only real source of help. I need God and my prayers to Him to recognize this fact. The more I am apart from prayer, the more I feel out of communion with Him. Why not pray to him more regularly, pour out your heart towards him fervently, tell him about all your burdens and then throw each of them on him because for “”he cares what happens to you”(1 Peter 4: 7b).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is the pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the senior editor of What Christians Want To Know, whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.