Why We Pray

The answer might surprise you!

Why We Pray

Many of us fall into the habit of treating God like a genie in a bottle — as if our prayers are wishes we hope he will grant. Then when we don’t get the answer we want, we get confused, upset or even angry. Finally, in our disappointment we declare that prayer doesn’t work and is a waste of time and energy!

But what if our prayers were never meant to “work”? What if our approach to prayer is all wrong? We want to help you explore what prayer is — and what it isn’t — by looking at some of the ways we treat prayer: as a quick fix, a last resort and more. And as we explore how God designed prayer and modeled it for us through Jesus, we can together understand how to better approach this conversation with a holy and loving God.

Let’s explore some answers to questions about prayer and how the Bible teaches us about the significance and role of prayer.

What is Prayer?

Prayer is a spiritual practice of the presence of God. It is a way we become aware of and experience God’s presence and character, allowing us to become aware of our desperate need for him. It is also a means to express that need; through prayer, we meet and connect with God.

Philip Yancey once said, “If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.”

Maybe the reason our prayers don’t always work is that, at the heart of it, prayer isn’t about fixing things; it’s about a relationship. Prayer is the avenue of communication between us and God, and we need to approach it with the respect, intentionality, and commitment that he deserves. In Jesus, we find the perfect example of what it means to invest in an active, intimate relationship with God. In order for us to imitate his example, we need to understand why prayer doesn’t work the way we want it to, but rather the way God designed it to work.

Prayer isn’t about fixing things; it’s about a relationship.

Why We Pray

Here are some reasons that the Bible gives us for praying:

God responds to the prayers of his people.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. — James 5:16b (NLT)

It is through prayer that his work is accomplished on earth. The apostle Paul continually asked for prayer in his missionary endeavors and saw prayer as vital to his success.

God reveals himself to us through prayer.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. — Psalm 143:10 (NLT)

We learn more and more about his character and how his perfect will is working itself out in our own life. Deepening our understanding of God also deepens our faith and desire to worship.

God imparts understanding through prayer.

If you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do — ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. — James 1:5 (NLT)

As we become increasingly aware of our limitations, we can rest in the knowledge that our God is omniscient. Availing ourselves of God’s counsel is a blessing of prayer.

God gives us his power to resist temptation.

Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak! — Matthew 26:41 (NLT)

With prayer, you always have a proven shield of protection available. Just say the word. God extends his power to us through prayer so that we may resist temptation.

God does the impossible through prayer.

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. — Matthew 21:22 (NLT)

Our hearts pound with great confidence as we take mighty tasks to our exceedingly mighty Lord. He exercises his authority and ability to do the impossible through the prayers of his people.

God invites us to bring our burdens to him.

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. — Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

We have a Heavenly Father who is more than able to bring victory to any challenge we face. God is a spiritual and physical healer. Like any healthy relationship, we must keep a line of communication open.

God commands us to pray.

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. — Jeremiah 29:12,13 (NLT)

God wants to be in relationship with us. And he knows we need what he can give. Through prayer, we experience life-transforming, life-renewing intimacy with the Creator of the universe.