Why Pray?

In one sentence, Jesus tells us why to pray: God will reward us. In other words Those who pray to God receive some sort of benefits. The letter to the Hebrews puts it this way: “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Does this mean that God always answers our prayers in the way that we would wish or expect? No! Paul prayed without success three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed 2 Corinthians 12:8-9). James says we can fail to get what we request because we “ask amiss” (James 4:3). Even Jesus’ plea in the Garden of Gethsemane that “this cup pass” from Him was denied (Matthew 26:39-44), though God granted His desire for that “Your will be done.” Nevertheless, Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you…If you, being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7, 11). What kind of reward awaits those who pray? First, God may give us what we ask, as Jesus said in the words quoted above. After all, why would He instruct His disciples in prayer, even telling them what sort of things to seek from God, if the Father had no intention of responding? Second, the Lord may give us “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”(Ephesians 3:20), as He did for young King Solomon (1 Kings 3:5-13). Jesus not only healed a paralytic, but forgave his sins (Matthew 9:2). Third, our wise and loving Father may give us something other, but far better, than what we request. Though Paul’s thorn was not removed, yet he received the promise of God’s grace each day and the ongoing demonstration of God’s power through his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Jesus did not arrive in time to heal Lazarus, as his sisters desired, but waited until He could demonstrate His might by raising their brother from the dead (John 11:1-44). Most of all, however, prayer brings us into communion with our God. We draw near to Him in prayer, by faith in His word. “Whom have I in heaven but You? There is none upon earth that I desire besides You…But it is good for me to draw near to God” [or, “the nearness of God is my good”] (Psalm 73:25, 28). Through prayer we enjoy intimacy with God through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit. What greater reward could there be?