Why Even Pray...?
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Prayer is a mystery to me. We are told to pray in all circumstances, but we are also told that God is so intimately involved in our lives that He even knows the number of hairs on our heads. He already knows our thoughts, our needs, and our every desire…so why even pray?
Once again, I was crying out to God, asking His forgiveness – and, if I am honest, expressing my deep...frustration – for some of my more recent failures and disappointments. (It's OK to be angry at God as long as you don't stop talking to Him...and listening.) Coming off a recent season of fervent prayer on behalf of a friend, only to watch her slip away from this world in spite of so many prayers, I was also feeling particularly ineffective in my prayer life. Why didn’t our prayers work? Why didn’t healing come? And ultimately, was there something in my life that was making my prayers ineffective? Then I heard His still, gentle voice speak into the turbulence of my heart, “Were you praying for your will – or my will to be done?” Feeling mildly chastised and pretty foolish, I admitted that I had been praying selfishly. I was only looking at things from a worldly perspective. It just seemed like there were so many reasons why she should have been healed, so many people who needed her, and so many who would benefit…which is not the way we are supposed to pray, at all.
We are told that the most effective prayers are when we remove our will, our perspective, and our desires from our hearts before we pray; then we are to lift up our requests, asking only for God’s will to be done. That’s a pretty tall order, and it brings me back to my original thought: He is aware of the situation, so what good does it do for me to pray continually about it?
Relationship, trust and obedience are the issues. The Bible says our prayers are powerful and effective, and we are encouraged to pray about everything. God loves us beyond anything we can ask or imagine, and He wants a close, personal relationship with each of us. We must trust that He knows best, and His will is ultimately for good, in terms of His kingdom purposes…but the outcome may not necessarily be what we think is best for our purposes. We have to understand that there is a whole lot more going on than meets the eye. God has His reasons for every single thing He does. Just like children not understanding all the reasons why their parents won’t allow them to have all the candy they want, we don’t always understand His will or His ways. We just have to trust that He has a reason for calling us to pray…or perhaps there are a lot of reasons? At the end of the day, we are not expected to know God’s will or His ways…we are just supposed to focus on Him, keep talking to Him, trust Him, and obey what He tells us to do.
Do you trust Him with your life? With your loved one’s lives? The things you hold most dear? Everything we have came from God: relationships, family, home, career…all of it. Will you still love Him, trust Him, and submit your will to His, even if His decision is not what you want? This choice must be made up-front, ahead of the tough times, or you may find yourself - and your faith - de-railed when dark times come and you aren't getting the answers you are begging for. He asks you to trust Him, regardless of any circumstance, and believe in His great love for you, even though you may not be able to see it or feel it…that’s why it’s called faith…
Prayer: Father God, thank You for always hearing my prayers. Forgive me when my own selfish desires get in the way, and help me to focus on You and trust that Your will is always best, even if it may not be what I want at the time. Help me understand, to the extent possible, what You want from me; and when I don’t understand, please help me to just trust in Your great love, to seek Your will, and to obey. I love You, praise You, and choose today to trust and serve You, in the majestic and all-powerful name of my Lord & Savior, Your precious Son, Jesus, amen.
“And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:27
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
“…To obey is better than sacrifice…” 1 Samuel 15:22
“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14