Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why Pray

The question has been asked, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, why do we need to pray? Could not God give us everything we need without our asking? But I am convinced this misses the point of prayer. The point of prayer is not to get us the things we want, as if God’s only purpose was to cater to our selfish desires. God does not want to produce spoiled brats. Rather, prayer is to help us understand and remember our dependency on God for everything. It is intended, not primarily to get us what we want, but to build a relationship. Now Scripture does say that God, to a degree, bestows good things on everybody , even those who reject Him (Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17; James 1:17). He also will deny prayers when it is required by His own higher purpose (Luke 22:42-44; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15). But between these boundaries there are things God has said He will give us if we ask (James 4:2; Matthew 7:7-11; Ephesians 3:20,21).
One of the great pitfalls we face that can create distance between us and God is pride (Proverbs 16:18; 26:12; 1 Corinthians 3:18). And the humility that God wants us to have, the humility of a little child (Matthew 18:3,4; 1 Peter 5:5,6; James 4:10), is not easily produced in us. But it is only through this humility that we can come to fully trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-7; Psalms 127:1,2; Isaiah 40:31). This is something that cuts against the grain. For just when I think I have forced pride away from the front door of my life, it comes sneaking in the back. Just when I think that I am starting to be humble, I develop pride in my humility. To overcome this I need something beyond myself. I need the power of God (John 15:5; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13). This in itself is humbling and one more thing that can be difficult to swallow. So I am convinced that one reason God requires us to ask in regard to other matters is to remind us of our need of Him. I know for myself it is often so easy to ignore Him till I get in over my head, and then to turn to Him only when the storm is raging and I feel the boat is sinking. So I strongly suspect that if God just gave us everything ,or everything He was willing to give us, without our asking, we would be tempted to go through life blithely ignoring Him. For the point of the whole procedure is not to get us what we want, but to teach us to recognize our dependence. That we might not center our lives around our needs, but His Person.

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