Why pray when God is eternal and knows everything?
I like to compare our relationship with our Heavenly Father with our earthly parents. When I was young, my parents generally knew before I asked for anything, what my interests were and what hobbies I was involved with. This didn’t hinder me to talk to them, however. I would have missed an important aspect of my relationship with my parents if I never talked to them or shared requests I had on my mind. Communication is at the root of any relationship. Without communication of any sort, there can be no relationship, there can be no love.
Can I have a meaningful relationship with an ant? No, not unless we can somehow learn to communicate. I can have a meaningful relationship with a dog, however. Dogs can communicate with humans by sitting at their feet, following them when they go for a walk, growling when strangers approaching their master, etc. Communication is of importance to have a meaningful relationship. The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11: 1-4) is a clear example of that.
Prayer also shows that you are giving your all to God. You are telling your divine Father that you cannot do it all by yourself. You depend on Him to solve your problems. David expressed that well in Ps 62:7-8–“My salvation and my honour depend on God; He is my mighty Rock, my Refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our Refuge.”
The apostle Paul expressed a similar thought: Phil 4:6–“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I think we pray to God because God’s spirit is already in us and it is that principle that attracts us to pray to God. “God is a spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth”
Because I only know in part and see in part, where as He knows Everything and sees all.
The short answer is that God does not need our prayers, we do. We, unlike God, despite frequent delusions to the contrary, do NOT know everything. We also have a tendency, because of our sinful natures to drift away from God unless we make the effort to stay close. Prayer helps us to do that.
Prayer, done properly and not just repeated parrot fashion, also involves listening and allows God to communicate with us while we are focused on Him. At least that is my understanding of the matter.
The references to prayer in the Bible are vast and too much for one article. Let’s just look at some of the more significant aspects.
The first reference in the Bible to prayer is:
Genesis 4:26-AV And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
A descendent of Seth’s, Enoch, a devout man so in tune with God, through constant prayer, or two way communication, that it can be said he ‘walked with God’. In fact God ‘beamed him up’ and took him to Heaven in the same way the living will be translated at the second coming.
Genesis 5:24-AV And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him.
Rather than just asking for things like a child saying ‘gimme, gimme’, it is this close communication with God that we should seek.
1Chronicles 16:11-AV Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
Matthew 26:41-AV Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.
1Thessalonians 5:17-AV Pray without ceasing.
1Timothy 2:8-AV I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
Matthew 6:33-AV But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
It is my belief that this aspect of prayer is what we should develop first, that does not mean that we should not ask for things, there are plenty of references for that aspect too. However, if we have a close relationship with God, not only will we have a better understanding of what to ask for and what to expect, but, like Daniel, our prayers will have more power.
Philippians 4:6-AV Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Matthew 7:7-AV Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
James 5:16-AV Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Now just a word of caution here, God does not always answer prayers in the way we would wish. If we ask for wisdom He will send problems for us to solve, and solving them we will grow in wisdom. It is that kind of mind set we are dealing with.
Sometimes the answers are not evident for many years. We can be confident that He will not answer a prayer in such a way that we will be led into temptation. For instance, I am financially living at or below the poverty line, however, in the past I have indulged myself when able, and would probably do it again if I won the lottery, so I doubt if I would win it, even if I was cunning and prayed that I could give millions to charity. Jokes aside, there are some prayers that will not be answered. The one I just jokingly referred to is one of them.
Prayers for selfishness will not be answered or even accepted. Disobedience and secret sin are another couple where prayer is ineffective.
1Samuel 28:6-AV And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
Psalms 66:18-AV If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear [me]:
Mark 7:7-AV Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.
On the other hand, promises are made concerning the answering of prayers. The following verses give us to understand under what conditions our prayers will be answered. Here again is evidence that we should first seek that closeness with God.
John 15:7-AV If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
1John 3:22-AV And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
If it is not within the Divine Will, the prayer will not succeed. We should follow Jesus example here and finish our prayer with ‘Not My will but Thy will be done…’ A good example of this is the case of the Apostle Paul, who asked for a ‘thorn in his flesh’ to be removed. It was God’s will that Paul carry that disability to keep him humble and Paul eventually realised this.
You will note that Paul’s prayer was answered, but with a NO.
2Corinthians 12:7-AV And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
2Corinthians 12:8-AV For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
2Corinthians 12:9-AV And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Frequently, we will find that the answer to our prayers has been arranged well in advance of us making them. I recall a time of crisis in my life when I was depressed and I sought comfort by talking to a Salvation Army Officer. I had sought him out at a corps picnic. He told me there were many passages in the Bible that were appropriate for giving comfort and assurance that God is with us in our problems but he did not have any reference material with him. He suggested I go home and open my bible and he would pray for God to lead me to the passages I needed.
I went home, took my bible out and just let it fall open. It fell open at a page where a bookmark had been inserted, I later found out, by my wife about 5 years previous. I had no recollection of seeing that bookmark before, probably did but just did not notice it. The page was not relevant, but lovingly typed on the back of the bookmark were the references to all the passages I needed to find. It was like being hit on the head with a brick. God WAS looking after me.
My depression departed like a morning mist and peace settled on me. I knew then that the crisis would be resolved and all would be well. I was able to give a powerful testimony about that incident and the Officer was also greatly encouraged.
Isaiah 65:24-AV And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
A great example of this is a mission story of a child’s prayer published in this newsletter some time ago, in which the child’s prayer was answered on the same day by the delivery of a parcel containing a hot water bottle, but the preparation, the packing and dispatch of the parcel took place months before.
Whilst I said earlier that God does not ‘need’ our prayers, I am certain that He longs for that closeness with us that only prayer can bring. He wants our company and our worship, that is what He created us for. And then, having lost us to His arch enemy through our own disobedience, He bought us back with His own life blood, so that if we want to, we can spend eternity in a close relationship with Him. I leave you with the following verse. May God richly bless all readers.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-AV Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.
My wife left me with my little girl almost a year ago. and filed for divorce a few months ago. I stayed up night after night praying, that she will return, come back to take care of me. I started going to church, in time of need I finally turned to God, when I should have turned along time ago.
My wife is still gone, and I sit here with tears running down my face, and ask why? Why God didn’t you answer my prayer God? why has my life turned out like this? why?……. Then I stop and think, my life has improved my health, my job, my financial situation, everything from when I get up in the morning to when I pray that prayer before I go to bed. and most of all my walk with god. My life has went from being in the gutter, to a better life, the life God wants me to live.
So then I ask myself. what was I praying for? Did He not answer my prayer? Has he not provided for me? Has he not chosen what was best for me in my life, when in a time of my life, I thought I needed a women more then anything, when all I needed was our Saviour Jesus Christ, that unanswered prayer that I had wanted to be answered so bad, thank you god for my unanswered prayer…..
Shawn Thompson email@example.com