Why Does God Want Us to pray?
According to Scripture, God clearly wants his people to call on him in prayer (Matt. 7:7-8; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2). But have you ever wondered why God wants us to pray?
The Bible describes God as all-knowing, all-powerful, and never-failing in his love. So, if God knows what’s best for us, has unlimited power to work in our lives, and loves us dearly, why does he require us to ask for help before he responds? (This is clearly the case according to James 4:2, “You do not have because you do not ask God.”) Why doesn’t God just provide for our needs without us having to ask?
Besides, if God is sovereign and “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:11), won’t God just do what he has planned, regardless of what we ask?
In his book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, D.A. Carson explains that to understand the mystery of prayer, we need to “think in personal and relational categories.” In other words, God wants us to pray because he is concerned with more than merely meeting our needs. God loves us and desires a relationship with us.
Imagine two families dropping off their daughters for their first semester of college. One father tells his daughter, “Listen, we know you are going to be busy in school and probably won’t have time to call. Besides, your mother and I will be busy, too. So I’ve arranged for a weekly transfer of funds into your account. All your needs will be met without you having to bother us.” The other set of parents says to their daughter, “Honey, if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to call. We are always willing to help you. All you need to do is ask. Besides, we would love to hear your voice.”
Both of those young women will have their needs met. Both will get their bills paid. But the second daughter is far more likely to experience a growing relationship with her parents. Her weekly phone calls to ask for spending money will lead to a lot more than financial aid. She and her parents will laugh together, cry together, argue with each other, ask each other questions, and share their daily news. Just like the other student, she will get all the money she needs. But unlike the other student, she will receive weekly reminders that her mom and dad love her.
I suspect this is the main reason God wants us to present our concerns to him in prayer. Yes, God wants to provide for our needs, but he wants more than that. He wants to hear from us, and he wants us to hear from him. God wants to be more than just our financial backer. After all, he is our Father. Prayer leads to a growing relationship with God. The ongoing interchange of human petition and divine response is God’s way of giving us constant reminders that we are loved.