The Reason We Pray
"The purpose of prayer is emphatically not to bend God's will to ours, but rather to align our will to His."—John Stott
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."—Jesus, Matthew 6:5-8
So Why Do We Pray?
Why do we pray, anyway? Think of some of the prayers you may have learned as a child. "Now I lay me down to sleep…," or "God is great, God is good" come to mind. And as we've previously discussed, many of us know the Lord's Prayer. If you're familiar with these prayers, you'll recall that in the first example we ask God for something. In the second, we thank Him for something. And in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus suggests an outline of how to pray. But beyond asking for things or expressing gratitude, have you ever really thought about why we pray? Just what is prayer's purpose?
Perhaps it'll help if we think of what happens when we pray. There are at least three authentic outcomes of our prayer time with God.
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Three Outcomes Of Prayer
One | Conversation
Conversation occurs. Prayer is talking with God. He's a person. He is three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and when we engage in prayer, we enjoy a close encounter, if you will, with the Godhead. It may seem like we do all the talking, but if every once in a while we take a breath and be still, we can gain a sense of His side of the conversation.
Two | Intimacy
Intimacy is fostered. Just like a conversation with our spouse, a parent, or a close friend promotes more in-depth levels of intimacy, dialogue with God can drive us to deeper levels of sharing. But this only happens when we take our interaction beyond simple facts and needs. We have to be honest, make ourselves vulnerable – not always easy! But we gain the most when we steer our conversation with the Father toward our deepest needs, desires, and emotions – communicating to God our very heart, soul, and mind.
Three | Change
Change happens. Whether we realize it or not, every encounter with God triggers some change in us – big or small – and ultimately all for good. It's a process of transformation that moves us closer and closer to fulfilling our potential as children of God. He is unchanging – His character, His attributes, His love for us wavers not one bit. So the change happens in us. This is the power of prayer. Sometimes the change is an immediate conviction prompting us to stop something, start something, or adjust an attitude of the heart. Sometimes the change is miraculous. Sometimes the change is slow, even subtle, and occurs over time. But we are never the same again.
Any way you slice it, prayer is a means of connecting us with the divine and supernatural – with God Himself. And the more often we do it, the abler we are to recognize His voice and discern His will.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is 20 Lessons That Build A Leader.