Today’s post is for the Lord Teach Us To Pray series, focusing on the “why?” of prayer, written by James Prescott. James is writer passionate about exploring digital media & our divine journey. He blogs regularly at JamesPrescott.co.uk and is a regular guest blogger at bigbible.org & other sites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and for bonus material subscribe to his blog/newsletter here.
When discussing prayer, often the issue that is most discussed is the how. The method, the language, how much space we leave for silence, how formal or informal it is.
One question we often forget is the why of prayer.
Why do we pray at all?
Asking why is important. If we don’t ask why, then how can we have a constructive prayer life? Asking why exposes our heart. It shows our motivations. It strips us down to see the truth that God already sees.
Once we understand the why of prayer, we can then begin the process of the how.
There are two dimensions of the question of why.
1. Why God wants us to pray
God wants us to have relationship with Him. He wants us to interact with Him, to engage fully with Him, to spend quality time with Him. This is much less about standing on ceremony and using the right language as it is about simply being open and honest with our Creator, as we would with our most trusted friend.
God invites this. He encourages it. He desires it. He doesn’t simply want our formal, textbook prayers, He wants our heart. He wants truth, honesty, authenticity in our prayers and in our relationship with Him.
Prayer can and should be an ongoing conversation between us and God. We need to open our minds and hearts more often to what is going on all around us in the mundane, everyday things of life, because God might just be trying to catch our attention.
It has been said about the burning bush that it was always burning – but Moses was simply moving slow enough to see it. His eyes were open. So let’s keep our eyes open.
2. Why we pray
Put simply, why do we pray at all? Do we pray simply as an insurance policy to make sure that we have enough credit in the spiritual bank? Do we pray as a comfort blanket to make us feel good about ourselves?
Or do we pray simply because we are desperate to know God and have Him fully immersed in our lives, and ourselves in Him? Are we praying because we want to have a living, vibrant, honest relationship with our creator, and want to make Him the most important thing in our lives?
We need to be honest with ourselves about this. If we are praying just to make ourselves feel better, or to keep up enough credit with God, then is it really prayer at all? Are we really engaging with relationship with God, or putting on an act for Him?
If that is the case we need to come before God honestly and simply confess this, and ask Him to draw us into a more honest, open relationship, and to reach out to Him out of love, not habit.
Do you see how asking why is so important to the how? Once we have asked ourselves these two questions and reflected on their meaning for us, we can then begin to have healthy dialogue with God.
We can begin to ask God how we should better pray. We can pray more honest prayers. We can build real relationship with the living God.
So do this today.
Before you pray, ask yourself why God wants you to pray, and why you are praying at all.
Answer them honestly, and bring those answers before God.
Then, you can really begin the intimate, honest journey of prayer, and the how may become almost irrelevant.