Monday, June 18, 2012

Why Pray If God Knows Everything?

"Why pray if God knows everything?" This was a question that was posed to me after the sermon I preached yesterday. It reminded me of a similar question I got last semester in my Community Group, and I thought I'd share my reply with you.
"My first answer would be that if anyone in the history of the universe didn't need to pray, it would have been Jesus. He didn't have sin to confess, and he always had a certain confidence that the Father's will would be done. Yet we find Jesus praying all the time, sometimes to the point of exhaustion and through the night rather than sleeping. So this must mean that there's more to prayer than confessing sin and asking God to do something.

"If the point of prayer is just to give God information or to get God to do something for us, then your husband is right, we don't need to pray. But this treats God like a computer, not a person. If God is a computer, then sure, just plug in the right information and you get your desired result. But if God is a person and desires a relationship with us, then not praying can be one of the most detrimental decisions we can make. Communication is as important between us and God as it is between a husband and wife in a healthy relationship. If my wife and I never talked, never shared our hearts with each other, then our relationship would stay cold, distant, and stunted. There is a health, growth, and vitality that comes to our relationship only by conversing. And the fact that Jesus prayed so much seems to confirm this dynamic. Jesus, even though he was and is God, knew that prayer was vital for a thriving relationship with the  Father.

"Praying brings us close to God. Of course, God is everywhere (omnipresent), but there is a spiritual nearness that happens when we pray. Our spirits/souls feed off of that, just like your heart gets fed from having a deep/loving conversation with your spouse or friend. I may not be giving my wife any new information, I may not be changing her mind or getting her to do anything for me, but talking is still vital to a healthy marriage.

"The best answer I can give you is that prayer is as important to our relationship with God as talking is to your marriage. One cannot expect to have a healthy marriage without talking, one cannot expect to have a healthy relationship to God without prayer."
Feedback: Do you agree? Surely this characterization isn't all-encompassing. What's missing?


Carol said...

I know your comment on prayer is ancient advice but today it felt so fresh. Your reminders about the nature of prayer makes it a joy and not a duty.

Bob said...

One thing to remember is that the sovereignty of God not only includes the ends but also the means. So even if God knows everything and has ordained a certain event to come to pass, He may have also ordained that the end to come to pass by certain means. For example, if God has ordained that I write you a letter the means that accomplish that end - e.g. getting the paper, pen, envelope, and stamp - are not frivolous or optional. So prayer can be the way that God's purposes come to pass.