Why Pray? – Luke 18:1b; James 4:6-10; 5:13-16
I have stood at the bedside, in courtrooms and at the altar with many brothers and sisters who have cried from the depths of their souls for God to intervene in situations thought impossible. I can truthfully say I have seen times when God has granted what we have prayed for. And, I can truthfully say I have had to dab the tears of those when God has not given what we have requested. If there is no guarantee we will receive what we have requested, why pray?
Having shepherded God’s people for almost 20 years, I have seen people grow weary in praying. The cause of this weariness resides in an immature understanding of the sacred, blessed privilege God bestows to His children. Let me start by echoing the words of scripture, “(Human beings) always ought to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1b). I believe the words of Luke and James provide a pathway to not losing heart.
The clearest reason to pray is stated in the Luke text — So we don’t lose heart. Losing heart is a condition that shouts defeat. When God’s answer to our prayer leaves us with a lost heart, the cause may be:
We have forgotten Whose will is paramount and,
To Whom are we praying.
God’s divine will is never conquered and the God we serve is never defeated. As His children, we may be wounded but never destroyed. Our hopes may be dashed but we prevail ultimately in all things. Tears are a testament to woundedness not defeat.
Posture in Prayer
God is God. Simple, but often overlooked. Our posture is to know that even though God calls us friend, (Read John 15:14-16) it does not reduce the fact that God is God. To live this out demands a reverent sense of humility. The Book of James is one of the more practical books in the New Testament. In the Chapter 4 cited text, James strongly encourages us to understand this relationship. In our culture, humility is equated with defeat. In our relationship with God, humility says, “I know in whom I can trust and depend! I know who is in control. I am humbled in prayer because I know I’m not in control.”
Faith in Praying
In 2 Kings 20 and 2 Samuel 12, we get a glimpse into the prayers of King Hezekiah and King David, respectively. In one case, God added 15 years to King Hezekiah’s life. In the other, David’s son died. James 5 tells us, “The effective, fervent prayer of (the righteous) avails much.” (5:16) In the original Biblical language, avails means to strengthen or make strong. I would love to state that prayer guarantees we will get exactly what we desire. I have Biblical evidence and experience to affirm we don’t. What then does effective, fervent prayers avail? If we pray, trusting God:
Knowing God’s in Control
Knowing God loves us
Knowing in Him we are never defeated
Then we should never lose heart, faint, or get weak. That is a huge availing! We can affirm the words of Paul that declares in all things we are more than conquerors. (Read Romans 8:31-39)
Regardless of how mature one might be in the faith, no one gets a pass from life’s trials. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (KJV) It assures us God is with us in troubled times. What is often overlooked is that God is present, because we will have troubles. Prayer is the primary means of accessing the grace of God’s presence. Being in the presence of the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God should strengthen us for any battle.