Perhaps you have asked yourself, “Why Pray?”. Maybe you have asked it because you have felt defeated in the areas of prayer. Perhaps you wondered if God was even listening. Maybe you have wondered what difference prayer makes if you are praying to a God who already knows the beginning from the end. After all, He is control of all things and can do what he wants. Whatever the reason you have asked this question, it is worthy to consider. Prayer is a tool the Bible repeatedly encourages us to utilized.
Romans 12:12 says, “Be…. Faithful in prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.”
Ephesians 6:18 says, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit…”
Did you know Jesus answered the question “Why pray?”. In fact, the same passage where Jesus teaches us why we should pray he also teaches us how to pray. In Matthew 6:1-8, Jesus observed religious leaders abusing their positions. They were using prayer as a means for their own glory. In response to the neglect of the religious leaders, Jesus teaches his followers about the purpose and importance of prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. We traditionally call this “The Lord’s Prayer”. However, I believe this is a poor name for this passage because the Lord’s prayer is in John 17. It’s the passage that records Jesus’s prayer for His church. Matthew 6:9-13 should be more accurately titled “The Disciple’s Prayer” because this is the passages he teaches his disciples about prayer. From this prayer, I want to identify 6 reasons why we should pray.
6 Reasons Why We Should Pray (According to Jesus)
#1 Pray to draw near to God.
Matthew 6:9: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven…'”
Jesus’s first words on prayer teaches us that prayer is about drawing near to God. To refer to God as Father was offensive in Jesus’s day. Yet the New testament teaches us that we can connect with God in a personal way.
Romans 8:15 says, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!’”
The word Abba doesn’t just mean father, but rather it is a very elementary and primal word for “father”. Picture in your mind a toddler seeing their loving father return home from work after a long day at the office. Once that toddler sees their father, they shout “Da-da” as they leap toward their loving father’s embrace. At this moment, the toddler has no other concern in the world than to be near their dad; and their father is delighted to have the child in his presence. When kids are in this moment and Dad is a loving protective caring provider, a child can lose all other concerns in the world because you have his presence.
When you see God as a loving protective providing Father, let the words of Hebrews 4:16 echo in your mind. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
#2 Pray to honor God.
Matthew 6:9: “…hallowed be your name.”
Next Jesus teaches us that God is not just Father, He is also King. Prayer gives us a place to revere the Lord as Holy. When we pray we are acknowledging His authority and power over us. Prayer is not something we should practice lightly. It is sacred to have access to such authority at any moment. The following verses help me reflect on the idea of God being both a caring Father and my Holy King.
1 Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you.”
#3 Pray to align your heart with God’s will.
Matthew 6:10: “Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
I believe this verse identifies one of the most abused areas of prayer. Prayer is often seen as the tool God gives us so we can tell Him what we want Him to do. We often make prayer about our plan because we know what is best and we see ourselves as the one in charge. However, Matthew 6:10 teaches us the primary purpose of prayer is not about God accomplishing our will. Prayer is about aligning our hearts with His will. It’s about His plan because He knows what is best and He is in charge.
I don’t think it’s wrong to share our needs with God (see the next point). However, it is more beneficial for us to live for his purposes than for our own. We need the Lord to do a work in our hearts to see things from His will rather than our will.
1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
When we live in a posture of prayer, our hearts will align with him (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
#4 Prayer releases your burdens to God.
Matthew 6:11: “Give us this day our daily bread…”
“Give us…Daily bread” is the same as asking ask God to provide the things we need to sustain for that day. This doesn’t mean you need to pray about everything you encounter or every decision you have to make. It means you can pray a general prayer for all the little things you need for that day.
Every once in a while, I will hear a story about a Christian that prays about every decision they will make that day and I mean EVERYTHING. They will wake up in the morning and ask God if they should open their eyes. They will get out of bed and ask God what clothes they should wear or if they should eat breakfast. This is absurd. Without asking God, I can just tell you that God generally wants you to wake up, put your clothes on, and eat something. Rather than pray about every detail in your entire day, you can just ask God to provide the “daily bread” you need to live for his glory. Matthew 6:11 is teaching us that rather than worry about our daily needs, pray and release our burdens to God. You place your daily problems on his shoulders. 1 Peter 5:7 says to “cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
#5 Prayer helps us maintain a healthy relationship with God.
Matthew 6:12: “Forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors.”
Once you become a true believer, your position in Christ can never be lost. You are forever sealed as a child of the King. However, our relationship with God is impacted by our sin much like a parent child relationship can be impacted by sin. When a parent has a child, that child is forever their child. But, that relationship is only as healthy as the unity between them. Relationships do not remain static. Sin can create relational distance.
Did you know your relationship with God is impacted by the way you treat others? It’s true.
1 Peter 3:7: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way… so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
You may wonder why your relationship with others impacts your relationship with God. 1 John 4:20 says it like this: “If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
In summary, if you love God, you will love what God loves; and what God loves is people. However, no one is perfect in their walk with God. We mess up and offend people. Therefore, it is important to know that God provides a place for us to be forgiven, and He restores our relationship with Him.
If God forgives us, we should also be a forgiving people. Did you know when you refuse to forgive others this also impacts your relationship with God? Consider the first thing Jesus says after he teaches us to pray. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
The point is, we mess up and It distances our relationship with God. Prayer helps you maintain a healthy relationship with God. Be a forgiven person. Enjoy the forgiveness of God.
#6 Prayer is not wasted.
Matthew 6:13: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for yours is the kingdom power and glory forever and ever amen.”
We do not want to fall into evil purposes but to make our life count for His kingdom. We need to trust God. As we become a praying people, it is important to remember prayer is not wasted.
In Revelation 8, prayer creates this sweet incense and aroma that is before God. An angel holds the prayers of God’s people in a golden bowl and on a golden altar before the Lord. God will use our prayers as charge against the earth when he chooses to bring his judgement upon sin and injustice. One day God will return and your prayers that are before Him and He will provide the answer.
Revelation 8:3: “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.”
Why Pray? In short, we pray because God has ordained that He would work through prayer. You are the person called to pray. Prayer is a gift, and we need it in order to live a life that glorifies Him. One of the most convicting and challenging statements I have ever heard about prayer came from David Platt a few years ago. Platt was responding to the question “Why Pray?” I will leave you with his response:
Platt said, “We don’t need prayer when we are watching TV. We don’t need prayer when we are mindlessly surfing the internet. You don’t need prayer when there is nothing at stake in your walk with Christ. You don’t need prayer when there is no risk in your Christianity. You don’t need prayer when your Christianity consists of monotonous religious motion of routine week in and week out. You don’t need prayer. You can do that on your own. But when you risk everything to glorify Jesus Christ, you need prayer. When you sacrifice your possessions and your dreams and hopes, and career and you lay it all on the line… When you stake your reputation for your allegiance to Christ, you need prayer. When you long day in and day out to lead people to Christ, you rely on prayer. You are desperate to pray because you are devoted to his mission. And when the end of your life is to impact as many people as you can with the gospel of Christ for the glory of Christ you will find yourself given over to prayer.”