Two Sides of a Round Ball: Why Pray?

Prayer is an odd thing.  Really.

It is conversation with an Almighty God.  You know, the One who created you and me and everything that exists, the One who is sovereign over all that He created.

Yep…it’s talking with Him.

I want to pray for my wife, my two sons…I want to pray for myself…and then, there are my pastors, my church…and then, still others who need prayer for a variety of reasons.  I want my day filled with focusing on God’s will in my life and in the lives and events of others.

And, there are a few things I use to help me when I pray:

1.     A hymnal – hymn texts are rich in prayer language because they can extol the nature of God, and, yet, they can also be very personal in the way we express our dependence on God.

2.     Lists – here’s A Prayer List that I use when praying for my sons.  I got it from another blog, who got it from still yet another.  I change some of the language and use it for my wife, and others.  It helps me be specific.

3.     The Valley of Vision – if you want to read some incredible prayers, get this book.  Past Jesus, I’m not sure many could pray like the Puritans!  And, Sovereign Grace Music has a CD of a few of the prayers set to music.  Really, really nice.

4.     Rosary beads – I know, I know.  Yet, for every bead, I say a prayer.  A specific prayer.  About the church, my family, my pastors.  Every bead forces me to praise and pray a different prayer.

But, sometimes prayer is hard.  So, back to my original statement…what is it about prayer that’s odd?

Well, on one side of the ball, it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do.  It’s difficult because when life is going all too well, we  are generally less dependent on God.  We trust more in ourselves and less in God’s sovereignty over our lives, so we find it difficult to pray because, essentially, we don’t need God.

On the other side of the ball, it’s an incredibly easy thing to do…when life is going south.  We can become a master pray-er when we need God to fix something, or heal someone, or do something that we think is important.  We’re on our knees when we realize it’s out of our hands.

Here’s a sample of what God’s Word says about prayer:

…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV

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. Pray then like this:
     “Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name.
     Your kingdom come,
     your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.
     Give us this day our daily bread,
     and forgive us our debts,
     as we also have forgiven our debtors.
     And lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
     For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  

Matthew 6:5-15 ESV

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding… 

Colossians 1:9 ESV

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

So, in addition to the encouragement we read in scripture about prayer, what should motivate us to talk to a divine, sovereign God?

Prayer is the protection of holy souls; a consolation for the guardian angel; an insupportable torment to the devil; a most acceptable homage to God; the best and most perfect praise for penitents and religious; the greatest honor and glory; the preserver of spiritual health.  

St. Augustine

…we shall readily learn to persevere in prayer and, with desires suspended, patiently to wait for the Lord.  

John Calvin, The Institutes

Wayne Grudem dedicates an entire chapter to prayer in his systematic theology book, Bible Doctrine.  He gives us four reasons we should pray:

1.     to express our trust in God.

2.     to express our love for Him in fellowship with Him.

3.     to be involved in activity that is eternally important.

4.     to give glory to God.

Grudem states, “Praying in humble dependence on God indicates that we are genuinely convinced of His wisdom, love, goodness and power.”

Pray.  And do not cease.  Let your very existence be a continual conversation with God, giving Him the glory for everything.

2 Comments

Filed under Theology

2 responses to “Two Sides of a Round Ball: Why Pray?

  1. WOW! That just about sums it up in a nutshell. Pray, pray, pray…and then pray, pray some more. I am so blessed to be a part of 3BC and the wonderful pastors God has sent our way. Thank you, Lord…through the good times and the bad times. May I always rely on you for strength that carries my burdens daily. Amen.

  2. Good stuff. Thanks for the reminder, Mark.

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