Do We Really Need to Pray? The Answer May Surprise You.
Last week we learned, "The purpose of prayer is to discover God's will… not obligate Him to ours. Prayer is our opportunity to reflect on God's mind, not change it."
And so, we continue to unpack "Why pray?"
Some of us may find that we need to redefine prayer. Perhaps we're new to the idea that prayer isn't about getting God to "see it our way" or "do it our way." (I'm raising my hand!)
Jennifer Kennedy Dean says, "Prayer is the means by which you will be freed from your earthbound, timebound thinking to participate in eternity."
"Prayer will work as God intends for it to work when it becomes what God intends for it to be. Prayer is not an activity but a relationship. Prayer is not a formula but a life."
Oswald Chambers said, "Prayer… is the means whereby we assimilate more and more of His [God's] mind."
Kennedy Dean continues, "The key to powerful praying is learning how to let Him pour His own desires into my heart and make them mine. In every circumstance, the Holy Spirit, who knows the mind of God, will teach us to pray as we ought…. little by little, under His loving tutelage, we will find our prayers reflecting God's will."
Roman's 8:27-28 from The Living Bible captures Kennedy's thoughts:
"And in the same way—by our faith—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don't even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God's own will."
The NIV version says it this way:
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Romans 8:26 NIV
I've shared that I'm an overthinker. Before I know it, paralysis sets in because I don't know what to think or do. I don't even know what to say or how to pray.
How encouraging is the Scripture we just looked at! It reminds us that we don't need to fear getting it wrong when it comes to prayer. Instead, God, the Father, tells us that we can trust God the Spirit to pray for us.
We're learning how important it is to surrender our will when we pray. What we pray for. How we hope prayer is answered. When we hope prayer is answered. All these things must be given over to His will. We do not know God's mind, so we cannot fully understand what He will choose to accomplish with our prayers.
What we must never doubt is that we are called to pray.
The South African Pastor, Andrew Murray, said this: "God's intense longing to bless seems in some sense to be graciously limited by His dependence on the intercession that rises from earth."
Think about that. The God of the universe WANTS us to pray. Concerning the prayers of God's people, Murray continued:
It's been said, "Prayer is the conduit through which power from heaven is brought to earth."
It isn't that God can't intervene to release His provision without prayer. It's just that sometimes He chooses not to. We think we're the ones waiting. Perhaps He's the one waiting on us!
Let's listen to these Scriptures and pay attention to the cause and effect communicated within them.
"He will call upon me, and I will answer him." Psalm 91:15
God says, "We call… then He will answer."
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13
God says, "We seek… then we find."
Verses such as these could cause us to wonder, "Does this mean that God needs me to ask?" The answer is no. Not in the way we may think.
Indeed, God wants us to ask. God desires relationship. Relationships are characterized by communication, vulnerability, and need. God doesn't need us to pray so He can know how to help us. We need to pray, so we recognize that God IS the one to help us.
In addition, Scripture also points to situations in which, on the surface, it appears as if God could not or would not act without the intercession of His people.
Kennedy Dean describes these situations as follows: "Prayer is the avenue that God has established for how His finished work comes from the spiritual realm and changes the earth."
It's precisely as Jesus called us to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
She continues with this example:
"Imagine that I am going to set up a corporation. I am the boss. I am sovereign over every decision about the corporation, and I have many options for how to set things up. One of the things I will decide in the beginning is this: Will I require one signature on a check, or will I require two signatures on a check?
I decide that I will require two. From then on, I "need" two signatures on a check. Because I chose to "need" them. Every time two signatures are required on a check; it is evidence of my sovereignty."
Is prayer necessary? Yes, because God chose to make it necessary!
Mercy, we could spend ten weeks instead of five learning about prayer! So, I hope you'll come back next week as we continue to unpack the power and the promises of prayer.