Why Should We Pray? A Christmas Devotional on the purpose of prayer
By Debra Torres I knew I was in for a treat when I agreed to babysit a 3-year-old boy for a weekend last month.
Since my own sons are in their teens now, it was fun to take out the “boy toys” and see our old Matchbox cars and Legos come to life again in his hands.
The boy was a precious bundle of energy and curiosity complete in one little golden-haired package.
So I was only a little bit surprised after we had prayed over our food one morning that he loudly and unashamedly asked, “Why do you do that?”
I politely explained to him the purpose of prayer and told him that we wanted to thank God for providing food for us.
I’ve thought of the boy’s question from time to time since then and it always makes me a little sad because it seemed as if he had no understanding of prayer.
But you know I have to admit that there are times in my own prayer life when I feel just like that little boy.
Oh, I still believe in God all right, but at times my prayer life can get dry and stagnant.
And there’s this part of me that asks the question: “Why do I pray?”
When my prayer “slumps” come I get this feeling like my prayers are either unheard or off target.
And I even find myself repeating them over and over again – just in case God wasn’t listening the first time.
I think one of the reasons I get this way is usually because I’ve strayed a bit in understanding why I’m praying at all.
My pastor said something the other day that helped set me straight again on the purpose of prayer: “If God’s will is going to be accomplished, why should we pray?” he asked. “Write this down –because he said to! I don’t know why God chooses to work through our prayers – but it’s powerful.”
Pray because God said to. That was a “forehead smacking” moment for me.
Another prayer pit I tend to fall into has to do with doubt. It’s when I pray without believing that the trouble starts.
Does God want to listen to someone who doesn’t believe he’s powerful enough to answer in the first place?
I remember clearly the day I prayed over a job possibility for my husband.
He had been finishing up his Ph.D. and paychecks were few and far between.
We had four children then and I had done my best scrounging up any kind of assistance possible.
The benefits of WIC, church food pantries and government-funded insurance were well used by me. But I was tired of living like that.
If the job possibility had been in Siberia, I still probably would have prayed for it.
That day, prayer for me was honest and real. I remember I was on my knees with my face to the floor. And I laid out for God all of the financial challenges we had faced – as if he didn’t already know!
Then, I went on to tell him how I thought this particular job could alleviate our problems.
I poured it all out to my Father and when I was done. I knew God had heard. I just knew it. And do you know what I think the difference was?
My own belief.
Now I know we need to be careful to pray according to God’s will. I could have believed for that job all I wanted, but if it wasn’t God’s will -- then I would have to wait. But I knew I had done my part.
Sometimes when we get that “off target or misfired” feeling when it comes to prayer, it has something to do with our frame of mind. Do we believe God can do the thing we are asking him for? Now, never mind if he will or not – that’s up to him.
I think our job is to ask and to believe that he is able.
“Why do you do that?” the little boy asked. First of all, because God tells us to and second, when we pray with belief according to God’s will -- it gets things done!
Here are some Bible verses that'll help you on your journey:
James 5:16b New Living Translation
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Matthew 21:21-22 Amplified Bible
And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.
1 John 5:14-15 New International Version
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.