The Purpose of Prayer

Do you ever feel like you’re praying so you can check it off your to-do list? There have been many nights where I’ve stayed up late trying to talk to God and just didn’t know what to say. So I’d recite the same canned words I’d recited the night before.

And the night before that.

And the night before that.

If you’ve ever gone through a spiritual dry spell, you may be familiar with what I’m talking about. You read your Bible and pray in hopes of getting a word from God and you leave the prayer session feeling like it was pretty uneventful. I recently went through one of those spells and can tell you first-hand that it’s not pretty.

So I’m here today to talk about the purpose of prayer.

Prayer is simply this: talking to God. This brings me to the age-old idea that God is all-knowing. That he knows everything you’re going to say or do before you even say or do it. This is a concept we are taught in Christian churches from a very early age, and it’s one that I’d like to challenge in this post.

First of all, consider the three most often-taught characteristics of God. We tend to say and believe that he is:

  1. All-knowing
  2. All-powerful
  3. Everywhere all the time

If you really stop and think about these 3 characteristics, they can’t all exist within a single being at one time. It would be impossible. If God were truly all-knowing and if he were truly everywhere all the time, then he’d be a slave to his own power, which would cease to make him all-powerful.

I would like to consider the idea that God is not all-knowing. On the contrary, because he is all-powerful he can choose to know, or to not know, certain things. If he did not have the ability to make that choice, he would not be all-powerful.

Think about this: If you had a friend or a family member, and you were able to read their mind – you knew exactly what they were going to say before they even opened their mouth – what would you relationship look like? Would you even have a reason to talk to them, to converse, to ask them questions? Most likely not.

If God could read our minds and knew everything that we were going to do or say before we did or said it, he would have no reason to talk to us. He’d have no reason to develop a relationship with us, and prayer would then serve no purpose.

The purpose of prayer is to build an intimate relationship with the creator of the universe. With that in mind, we must consider that in order to build a relationship with someone, you must interact with them on a consistent basis. There will be times when you have nothing to say. In those moments, read his Word and see what happens. If nothing happens, don’t worry. God may have his moments too, where he doesn’t really have anything to say. But you can both still enjoy each other’s presence the way you’d enjoy simply being in the presence of an old relative even when you’re not conversing back and forth.

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