The Purpose of PrayerOctober 11, 2012 - 5:00 am
“I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” — Malachi 3:6
What’s the point of prayer?
Some of the time we praise God and other times we thank Him. But the bulk of our prayers are usually made up of requests. We most often turn to God when we need something from him. However, if you think about it, this is problematic. It implies some pretty heretical ideas about our God.
Is God is all-powerful? Sure! Is He all-loving? Of course! Then doesn’t it follow that our lives are exactly as they should be? God doesn’t make mistakes and He isn’t at a loss when it comes to miracle-making. So why should we think that anything in our lives needs to be changed?
In the book of Malachi, God says, “I the LORD do not change.” God knows what He is doing and He doesn’t change His mind. He isn’t like a pushover parent who gives in to a tantrum, and He is not like a mortal that can be bribed with praise. God’s decisions are already perfect and He cannot be swayed.
So why pray?
The Hebrew word for prayer is “lehitpallel.” Interestingly, the word is reflexive, which means that it is not an action that is being done to something or someone else — it is something that we do to ourselves. Prayer is something that has an effect on us. We don’t pray in order to change God. We pray so that we can change ourselves. And if we change ourselves, then our situation can change too.
Here’s how it works: When we praise God, we are humbled. When we thank Him, we are grateful. When we ask God for the things that we need, we are forced to take a good look at what’s really important to us. When we ask for what we want, we appreciate that God is the ultimate provider. When we talk to God, we become closer to Him. Sincere prayer is a life-altering experience, one the leaves the worshiper completely changed.
God doesn’t need our prayers! He already knows what we want and what we need. He certainly doesn’t need our compliments. We don’t pray for God’s sake; we pray for our own. Through prayer, we grow and change. We are no longer the person that we were before. So God gives us a whole new reality – one fitting for the new person that we have become.
When we pray, we often wonder if God heard our prayers. But next time you pray, change the question. Of course God hears our prayers. The question is: Did we?