Recently some very compelling conversations with some super trusted girlfriends found me stumbling across the question “Why does it matter for us to pray when God is sovereign over all things?” I sincerely hope I am not the only one who has been stumped by this one and if so, please indulge me as I work through my research and findings here.
But before we dive in – let me say, asking these questions and digging deeper into our bibles for answers is precisely what we are to be doing. And I am forever grateful for my “biblical grade friendships” (thanks Jessica for coining that term for us!) that bring me to this exact spot of yearning to seek refuge in my confusion solely on words of my Heavenly Father. I love my girls – they challenge me to want to know God more and seek out my heart’s desire for Him through truth. His truth! All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.[2 Timothy 3:16]
Now – if God really knows how everything single thing is going to turn out, why bother to pray? I believe, there are some fundamental scriptural reasons why.
- God has invited us to pray for what we need. There are many verses that command us to call on God. For one Jesus specifically said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” [Matthew 7:7-8] James wrote that we don’t have because we don’t ask. [James 4:2] If the Bible is God’s word to us and the Bible tells us to ask for what we need, then it seems a solid reason to pray.
- Despite any amount of thinking we do, the reality is we don’t know what we need. Partly we do, but mostly we don’t. We are very limited by our own experiences, perspective and desires. Have you ever struggled to pray? Didn’t know what to say? Felt exhausted and exasperated? God knows our human constraints in prayer which is why “the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” [Romans 8:26-27] I am sure the sweetest prayer our Heavenly Father could hear is the offering of our souls in “Thy will be done”… so sincere, so pure, such surrender and obedience.
- God is all-knowing and all-powerful and almighty. Our prayers do not surprise him in any way. He expects before we reflect. He has the way before we know we need a way. He knows our prayers before they ever come to our mind. [Matthew 6:8]. Big words and fancy phrases are not necessary. He simply wants us to call on Him. He does truly know what we are saying even if we get our words jumbled up. (I do this a lot).
- God already knows it all. Praying doesn’t give God any new information. Job tells us that God “…looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” [Job 28:24] The psalmist writes, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.” [Psalm 139:2-3] Isn’t that such crystal clear proof that God doesn’t need me to tell him anything? He knows I don’t feel fulfilled in my job. He knows my family need more patience from me. He knows I desperately struggle to be accepted. He knows it all – already. Before we say a word, he knows our heart, our secret pains and our silent big dreams. (And I can’t help but wonder about those running, supposedly “hiding” from God … that’s one to explore huh?)
- You might be asking, “Then why do we need to pray if he knows already?” Well, I promise you it is not for God. It is for us. God doesn’t need our prayers, but we need Him. Nothing we pray adds to the complete perfectness of God. What it does is submits our total dependence to Him which allows us to lean in closer and hear His will. I can imagine (in my human way-not capable to fully understand the mysteries of sovereignty) God is pleased by our dependence as we would be when our children need us. We don’t want to cram life down our kids’ proverbial throats, rather have them understand they need our wisdom. (‘wisdom’ used lightly in my case! lol)
- Prayer is an avenue for us to learn the will of God. In those conversations with God and through quiet time studying His word, we are more keenly able to discern God’s voice. Our listening doesn’t change His voice or His plans, but our listening makes His plan more clear.
- Pray because prayer is the means God has ordained for some things to happen. Prayer, for instance, helps others know the love of Jesus. Prayer can clear all the people junk out of the way so that God can work. I mean he can surely work without our prayers, but He has established prayer as part of His plan for us to be a part of accomplishing His will in this world. I, for one, am tickled He wants me involved!!
- We need the spiritual training to resist temptations. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” [1 Timothy 4:8] So how do you obtain this ‘godliness’? – pray. It’s kinda simple. You want a relationship with me? Talk to me. You want to know God and learn God’s ways? It starts with talking to God.
- Jesus prayed. Want to be Christlike? Pray. “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.'” [Matthew 26:36] Being a Christ follower, a doer of things Christ did, makes me a prayer too.
- Prayer is an obedient act. Pray because he said to. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” [Romans 12:12] There are so many scriptural references and commands to pray. It is impossible to believe the Bible, desire deeply to follow the Bible’s teachings and then at the same time not actively be in a prayer relationship with God who wrote the Bible.
Pray to worship. To be obedient. To hear His voice. To share your heart openly and freely with the God of the Universe who created you and loves you to the very bellowing bottom of your soul – junk and all. Pray to love Him back. Yes He already knows what is going to happen and I love Him dearly for promising and reassuring me His plans are to make all things good for me as I seek Him and submit to His will for my life.
Thy Will Be Done, Lord.
Lovingly in His Grip, Ashlee