Why Pray?

I sometimes wonder why God wants us to pray.  He knows my needs before I ask.  He knows whether I am thankful for His blessings, or not.  He knows what I think about Him.  So why pray at all?  Why bore God with things He already knows?

Perhaps it is because prayer is more for our benefit than it is for God’s.  Note the familiar passage:

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 NKJV 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Look at the last part of verse 18.  Prayer is God’s will “for you.”  Now, since God only wants what is best for us, prayer must be a good thing for me.  When I pray, not only does this please God, but good things start happening for me.  These good things are not limited to getting something I may have asked for.  How many different ways am I blessed through my own prayers?  Well, here’s what prayer does for me.

Prayer blesses me by drawing me closer to God.  When I pray to God, my concentration on Him becomes more intense.  If my thoughts are focused on God, it makes me want to be like Him.  This has a highly positive effect on the ease with which I walk with Him.  Just the act of praying makes it easier to live the Christian life.

Prayer blesses me by causing me to be less selfish.  Sure, I’ll pray about my own perceived needs, but, I’ll also pray for others.   This helps me empathize with them.  The time I spend thinking about others is time I don’t spend thinking about myself.  This helps me be less selfish.  This helps me be less easily offended.  The burden of self is diminished by prayer.

Prayer blesses me by causing me to appreciate my blessings. As I thank God for what He has done for me, I will likely begin to realize that I am more blessed than I imagined.  Understanding something of how blessed I am does wonders for my self-image. God has been so good to me!  I want to be good to others like God has been good to me.  My blessings grow and multiply as I pray.

Prayer blesses me by causing me to more accurately define my real needs.  When praying for myself, I am probably not going to ask for a new Mercedes, or expensive clothes, or a really big mansion to live in, or anything like that.  I saw a headline in Yahoo News that the Super Bowl win was an answer to the Saint’s fans prayers.  Well, I hope not.  Surely they could find something better to pray for than the outcome of an entertainment event.  I would be surprised if any of us actually pray for something like that.  No, we pray for health, safety, physical necessities, strength to do right, and forgiveness.  Praying helps me remember what is really important.

Prayer blesses me by causing me to have more love for my neighbor.  Just mentioning someone to God in prayer causes me to feel more compassion for them.  Also, it is difficult to have hard feelings toward someone for whom you are praying.  If you are having a struggle getting along with another person, start praying for them.  You may see attitude improvement in more than one person.  My motivation to obey the Second Commandment increases as I pray.

Prayer blesses me by causing me to more easily forgive others.  I will certainly pray for my own forgiveness.  A clear realization of how many times I fall short makes my neighbor’s transgressions against me (be they real or imagined) seem much less significant.  We are all in this together.  The other guy may not have acted the way he should have, but how perfect have I been in the past days and weeks?  Understanding my need for forgiveness makes me a better forgiver.  Prayer casts my own sinfulness before my eyes.

Prayer blesses me by causing me to be more active.  Asking for a blessing reminds me that I have a part in obtaining that blessing.  If I ask for a stronger faith, perhaps I need to read my Bible more.  If I ask for my children and/or grandchildren to grow into faithful Christians, perhaps I need to spend more time with them and be a better example.  If I ask to be more Christ-like, perhaps I need to reexamine my commitment.  Prayer energizes.

Prayer blesses me by causing me to feel better.  If prayer leads me to do all of the above:  I’m spiritual, I’m sharing, I’m thankful, I’m understanding, I’m loving, I’m forgiving, and I’m active; I think that will give me cause to feel humbly good about myself, and…I think I will!

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2 Responses to “Why Pray?”

  1. Blake A. Madison Says:

    Nice post John. Very good reminder on prayer and encourages me to do more of it.

  2. John Says:

    Thanks Blake. I appreciate your encouragement. We must do lunch again.

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