Over our final two days, we will consider the issue of why we bother praying at all. Some Christians wrestle with the question: Why do we ask God to do things, when he already knows everything, and will act whether or not we ask him? Do our prayers change anything?
The answer is a very definite “yes”! James says:
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
And if you trust in Jesus and have given your life to him, you are a “righteous person,” so your prayers do bring about powerful changes.
But we need to understand why. The reason is not because there is something magical about prayer itself. It is not a spiritual “force.” The reason the prayer of a Christian is powerful and effective is simply because God delights in making it powerful and effective. That is, God delights in acting in response to the requests of his beloved children, rather than acting without their involvement.
When my children were small, I loved reading them stories. I would often read stories to them even if they didn’t want me to. I would make them sit and listen. But what I loved much, much more was reading a story because one of them said, “Dad, would you read me a story?”
Similarly, God will still carry out his plan if we don’t ask him to—though the result may well look very different if we ask him. But his delight is to do things because we asked him to! Maxie Dunnam says:
It appears that God has so ordered life and the world that our praying is a vital part of the redemptive plan for individuals and the entire universe. (Workbook of Living Prayer, p. 109)
With that assurance, turn to your time of prayer now. On Tuesday we thought about Paul’s prayers as a model for our own. The Psalms are also a rich resource to help us pray. When you read any Psalm, two helpful questions you can ask yourself as you read are:
- What things in the Psalm can I relate to from my experience?
- Is there anything in the Psalm that reminds me of Jesus or reminds me of what God has done through Jesus?
For your time of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication today, read Psalm 25:1-10 and reflect on the phrases which get your attention. Use them in your own prayers.
1 In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.
2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.
8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. (Psalm 25:1-10)