Did Jesus mean what He said about prayer or was he just chatting while waiting for His impending arrest and death? How about other references to praying that are scattered throughout the Old and New Testament scripture; are they just bible-babble? Why don’t we pray? This may seem an odd question to follow this empowering scripture which tells us God wants to hear from us, but surveys, conducted by Pew and Barnacle Research Centres, found 70% of believers surveyed state they struggle with praying. These respondents suggest they are not satisfied with their prayer practices and when asked about the cause of their dissatisfaction, some suggested they are confused as to the value of prayer. They have argued with themselves about their understanding of God’s role in the universe. They wonder if God’s will control all that happens then will He not do what He thinks is required. Why pray if God is going to do what He wants? This unfortunate mindset conflicts with instructions to pray given by Jesus, who is God.
The Gospel of John records that on the night before Jesus was to die, He ate a meal with His disciples and offered words of hope. He knew His earthly ministry was about to end and as a loving teacher, He went over some of His previous teachings with His disciples. He said that when we ask in His name we will get what we ask for. He made statements that reinforced the necessity to call on Him; to pray. He said that we will do even more than He did during His earthly ministry. We know prayer preceded His earthly work and that would suggest that because we will be doing more, we probably should be praying more. Jesus said we can talk toHim about everything and anything, anytime. So why aren’t people praying?
The Apostle Paul tells to boldly approach the throne of the omnipotent, omniscient God, not because God must listen to us but because God is waiting to hear from us. The One who is all powerful and needs nothing, and who knows all, including what His creation needs to survive, does not need us nor does He need us to pray. He, however, desires to involve us in the flow of our lives and even the direction in which the world moves. Unfortunately, too many have forgotten that it is also His desire that we talk to Him. God is self-sufficient and does not need us, but He chooses to use us and our prayers to bring about His glory on earth. When we attribute our existence and blessings to Him, He is glorified. When we seek to know and align His will to ours, He is shown to be righteous. When we acknowledge that God already knows what we need, yet still choose to talk with Him about our own desires and concerns, He is shown to be a caring Father who wants what is good for His children. Prayer does not cause God to change His mind. It does tell Him that we are interested in being used to bring about the good He desires for all His children.
Do you pray? Do you need to realign your thinking about prayer and truly believe God wants you praying? I can speak from my own experiences, that of friends I know who pray, I’ve read of stories about people who have made prayer a staple of their life. I can even reference scripture that shows from the garden to the cross and beyond, that God has been asking us to talk to Him. But these experiences are worthless if people don’t see the value of prayer. That is why I want to say that to recognize the value of prayer you need to experience the impact of prayer.
I challenge you to talk to God every day, so you can experience this power. I’m not suggesting that daily prayer will turn you into a rich, popular Christian with superpowers to fix lives. I’m saying that when you get into the daily practice of prayer, you will begin to see the purpose in your life and will seek to fulfil it. Not in the habit of talking with God, then consider reading a Psalm. Turn David’s talks with God into your prayer. Read a translation, such as the Message, that uses language we hear every day. After you have read a Psalm, think about what you’ve read and ask yourself “is that what I also want to say to God?” If you set aside a few minutes each day to read and reflect on a Psalm, and if you approach this time with a desire in your heart to talk to God and not do it as a ritual, you will begin to sense something new. You will find you have your own words that you want to say to God. Before long you will talk with God about everything and at all hours of the day. You will become bold in your faith and will even ask God not only to change things in your life but in the lives of others. You will talk about healing sickness, strengthening relationships, and asking God to help you deal with the brokenness you encounter. You will talk with Him about choices and decisions that you want to make. You will experience life to the fullest because, regardless of what is happening to you and around you, your connection to God will replace fear and doubt with joy and hope.
Let prayer change your mind about who you are and what God wants for you. God is wanting to hear from you.