Prayer – What’s The Point?

Prayer – What’s The Point?Have you ever wondered, “If God already knows what he is going to do, is there any point to us praying about anything?” If God is sovereign and always accomplishes his purposes, what is the point of prayer? Thinking like this shows a lack of understanding concerning prayer and its purpose. Prayer is a spiritual discipline designed by God to achieve a purpose in the life of a believer.

Balancing divine and human responsibilities
The free will of man and the sovereignty of God are balancing concepts. Like many truths taught in the Bible, this is one that is difficult for us to get our finite brains around. Our part is to pray; scripture teaches this truth (Luke 18.1; 1Thessalonians 5.17). However, too many people think prayer is about trying to convince God to do something he really doesn’t want to do. They feel that if we just keep harassing God, he will finally give in to just get rid of us.

Can prayer really change God’s mind? Is God like a human who needs to repent or change his mind? Some scriptures would seem to indicate this. God said in Genesis 6.5-7 that he was sorry he had made man. This would seem to indicate God had a change of mind about creating us. What must be understood is that God often talks to us in anthropomorphic terms. For example God might refer to his “hand” or “right arm”. However, God doesn’t have a body he is a spirit. He is just relating to us in a way we can understand.

Likewise God, who exists outside of time, can tell us how he feels in a particular moment of our time. This doesn’t mean God has changed his mind in regard to some divine purpose. After all, why would a God who is omniscient and omnipotent ever need to change his mind about anything? God has already factored in every possible free will decision of every human in regard to his predetermined purposes. There is no need for him to change anything. He never makes a mistake.

Aligning our desires with his
The true nature of prayer is when people pray God’s desires back to him. All true prayer begins in the heart of God because we are not capable of knowing what to ask God for (Romans 8.26-27). The purpose of prayer is not to convince God to do something he doesn’t want to do. The purpose is to change the desires of our heart to align with his desires. Can you really ask God for anything and expect him to do it (John 14.13-14)? You can if you understand what it means to ask in Jesus name. Psalm 37.4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The word delight means to be soft or pliable. The meaning is if you are humble and pliable in your heart, God will place his desires in your heart. Then your desires are the same as God’s desires. Why would God not answer a prayer that is exactly what he wants to do? Prayer is more about changing us than changing God.

Growing our faith
However, sometimes it seems as if the Bible is telling us to keep praying until we change God’s mind. In Luke 18.1, Jesus said, “Men ought to always prayer and not faint.” Then he went on to tell a story of a widow who keep asking a judge for justice and he finally gave her what she wanted to just get rid of her. Matthew 7.7-8 again Jesus invites us to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking and eventually God will open the door and answer our prayer. This almost sounds like if we “bug” God enough he will answer our prayer just to get rid of us.

This is not how God works. He loves us and wants to hear and answer our prayer (Hebrews 11.6). Not growing weary in our prayer is a process of faith building. It is part of the way God fine-tunes our heart desires. It shows our seriousness about what we are asking for. It builds patience and perseverance, and gives time for God to work in his own way. That way the prayer will be answered in such a way as to leave no doubt to the fact that God was at work. This is how God brings the greatest glory to himself.

The Bible says, “We have not because we ask not… and when we do ask, “we ask amiss,” meaning we have wrong motives (James 4.2-3). So apparently God wants us to ask or pray.
The big thing prayer accomplishes is it changes the life of him who prays. It can also change a specific moment in time, which can be very important. The point of prayer is not so much about a predetermined purpose of God in eternity. It is about the change in the life of him who prays, and in the life of the one they pray for.

Dr. John Hawkins, along with his son John Jr., runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach, Fl. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.

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