Why Should We Pray?
The Importance of PrayerMost Jewish prayers start the same way...
"Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe..." They start with God in mind. Part of the reason why I think we ask the question "Why should I pray?" is because we start with ourselves in mind. We look at prayer and ask, "What we can get out of it?" This is not why we should pray. God is not a Coke machine, a bubble gum dispenser, or a vending machine. Prayer is not a transaction. Prayer is a connection.
But why do we need to pray?While there are infinite reasons why we need to pray, I walk us through four.
- Scripture tells us to. The first that comes to mind is "pray without ceasing" in 1 Thessalonians but the second one that comes to mind is in Philippians chapter 4, "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Jesus did. Jesus prayed. Often. Throughout his life. "In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed." Mark 1:35 Jesus prayed at the beginning of his ministry and at the end of his life. If Jesus needed to pray, we certainly do as well.
- To understand. It is a means of discerning God's will. When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we pray, "Thy will be done." We want to understand the will of God so that our will aligns with God's. We want our hearts and our minds to be transformed back into the image in which we were created - that process starts with prayer.
- Connection - We can't get to know him if we don't spend time with him. Spending time with someone is how relationships develop. There's no quick way to do that. It takes time.
To learn more about how to pray, read my previous post regarding the four steps I use in prayer.
If God knows everything that is going to happen then why do I need to pray?
There is a difference between God's Will for us and the plan for our life. God's will is for us to spend eternity with Him. He won't answer prayer in anyway that will jeopardize that. The plans for your life that don't impact your salvation are fluid. God is not a micro-manager. He cares about the details of our lives but he doesn't dictate them. He gave us free will and created us in his image with the gift of dominion over our own lives and the world - how we take care of each is up to us.
Who do I pray to?
At first this question seems a bit odd to me. But when I really thought about it I could see how it could be confusing. Do we pray to God? Or Jesus? Or the Holy Spirit? Or all three? Or the Trinity? The answer falls into the category of "there's no wrong way to pray." I've prayed to God. I've prayed to Jesus. I've prayed to the Holy Spirit. I've prayed to all three. I've prayed in the name of the blessed Trinity. In my theological tradition, none of those were heretical. I was praying to the same God, just different aspects of that God. When I praise Creation, I pray to God. When I'm thankful for salvation, I pray to Jesus. When I pray for inspiration, I pray to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I start by talking to God and end in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people call me, Shannon. Other times I'm Rev. Karafanda. Often I'm called Mom. Close friends call me Doc. No matter what you call me, I'm still me. Pray to God. Get to know Him better. You'll know what to call Him.
Why isn't it working?
Change your mindset to view prayer as a process, and experience, a relationship and not as a means to a result. Prayer isn't about "working" its about being with. Connecting. It always works. It feels different at different times. You may say the same prayer each day and hear something different each day in response. The world changes all the time - of course you'll hear something different. But that doesn't mean its not working.
Why is it important - does He already know what I need/want?Do you tell your spouse you love them? Don't they already know? Pray. God doesn't need to hear from you. He longs to hear from you. Reconnect.
Can we change God's mind?This one is tricky. I would never want to think that I had the power to change God's mind but I do think God's mind can be changed. That is different from God changing His will. There is scriptural evidence of Jesus changing his mind in the story of the Syrophoenician woman's faith. She argues with Jesus and is persistent in her request and Jesus changes his mind. Jesus himself prayed in the garden for what was about to happen to not happen IF it would be within God's will for the situation to change. Jesus seemed to be telling us that God can change His mind but he won't change His will.
I hope that I have cleared a path for you to be more open about prayer. I pray that you will connect with God and change the world. But even if that doesn't happen in the way you might think I do know that if you connect with God YOU will change. And YOU are worth it.