Why do we pray?
Have you ever struggled to answer that question? We know that we are supposed to pray. After all, the Bible plainly tells us of the importance of prayer—even to pray without ceasing.
Still, praying can seem to be more of a dry burden to obey rather than a blessing to enjoy. We’ve all experienced that, especially if we’ve been following Jesus for more than a few days.
Though we ought to pray simply out of obedience, God has desires prayer to be much more than heartless obedience. This article can’t possibly contain every biblical reason and motivation to pray, but here a few profoundly compelling reasons that speak to the question of, “Why do we pray?”.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess. 5:16-18
Why Do We Pray? Because Prayer Is Powerful
The reality is that we often fall into the trap of lumping prayer in with things that aren’t powerful, like meditation, “mindfulness,” or positive thinking. This does a huge disservice to prayer, and even to ourselves.
Prayer isn’t powerful because of positive vibes, mindfulness, meditation, or anything of the sort. Prayer is powerful because of the One we pray too. This is a primary reason we should pray, and pray more!
We pray to the sovereign King of the universe. We can come to him as our Father and bring all concerns in front of Him without fear. He even uses our prayers as a means as He works His will out in the world around us.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.
We pray because God uses prayer to accomplish powerful things.
Why Do We Pray? Because God Hears Our Prayers
Our Father in heaven is a listening Father. He hears our prayers. Though He has infinite power, strength, sovereignty, and ability, He still turns His ear to listen to the cares, prayers, worries, fears, thanks, and praise of His lowly creation—you and I.
Prayer is a God-paved route for us to bring our concerns to Him, to worship Him, and to be reminded of Him being our Father. He is not a far-off God, peering through telescopes, unable to be reached. He is a present God who hears our prayers and knows our needs.
“…casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:7
Why Do We Pray? Because It Guards Us Against Self-Centeredness
Prayer is a means by which God guards us against self-centeredness. As we pray about our work, ministry, family, and life, prayer serves as a reminder to us that we are to be emptied out so that God’s character may replace our own.
As we pray biblically, God works in our hearts to align our character, goals, and desires with His own.
Far too many of us, especially those in ministry, can go about our lives focused on our own passions and dreams that are different from what God may desire. We need prayer and scripture to remind us that we are here to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
We need the reminder of prayer that we are not the center of the universe. As we pray for His mission to be fulfilled in the world around us—in our work, families, and souls—we are guarded against being sucked into a self-centered lifestyle.
As Tim Keller puts it in his book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy With God:
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Why Do We Pray? Because It Guards Us Against Self-Reliance
Likewise, prayer guards us against living a life of self-reliance. I often get sucked into living in my own strength, even in “ministry” concerns where I would assume to be the most prayerful.
As we go about our days, we need the reminder of prayer that not only is this life not governed by us, but it isn’t powered by us either. We need God’s priorities and goals, but we also need his strength. Ours is far too weak for the tasks ahead of us.
Our own strength can not abolish sin in our hearts, reconcile families, build the church, or be an effective witness for Christ. We need God’s grace to be working in us constantly. Without it, we fall apart. Amazingly, we know this truth intellectually but we can still fall into living on our own power.
Speaking of how God builds his church, E.M Bounds helpfully notes:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Experiencing The Glorious Power of Prayer
Christ-centered, scripture-informed, God-exalting prayer will guard us against the danger of burning out on our own steam.
We need to learn to pray more for the good of our own souls. Prayer is a means by which God sanctifies us—makes our character more into the character of Christ. Prayer is powerful because of the sovereign, loving Father we have in heaven through the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
In prayer, God lovingly removes our self-centeredness and our self-reliance. Even though losing these may feel scary at first, we quickly discover that we are freer to live, more filled with joy, and more alive living this way than we ever could be living on our own. That ought to be more than enough reason to continue, steadfastly, in prayer (Colossians 4:2).