WHY PRAY?

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WHY PRAY?

A sticky situation arose recently and it got me a little more than bothered. I know I really shouldn’t have, but I let it get under my skin. My wife saw this and told me one morning, ‘Jesus says, ‘Don’t worry about anything, just pray about everything.’’

Now that got me thinking. Why pray? What’s the big deal about prayer anyway? Do we always get what we want or need when we pray? Does the sky turn purple or a genie pop out from a lamp when we pray? Why pray? Why bother?

Look, I’m a minister, but I’m also human. And being human, well, Paul couldn’t have spoken my mind any better.

“What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.” Romans 7:15 [MSG]

Or more comprehensively put,

“I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.” Romans 7:19-23 [MSG]

It’s exactly like that, isn’t it? We know we should have faith. We know we should pray. We know we should just put our burdens at the feet of Jesus, walk away and let Him worry about it. And I should know better because I wrote a message about just what happens when we pray.

But I’m also human and cynical; and that is a lethal combination because my weak flesh gives way to cynicism too easily and I start to question the things I know I ought not to have reason to question.

So you know what? I’m going to indulge that cynic in me for today and ask the question I really should not be asking; and if you’re feeling a bit like me today, let’s journey together and find out what God has to say about it, alright?

Here it is then, why pray?

Let’s begin by asking the most basic of questions; what do you do when you pray? Moan and groan? Complain about your situation? Rat on your brother? Scold God for not acting? If we are honest, we do all that, don’t we? But what does Jesus tell us that we should do?

“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” John 16:23

That’s right, He says that we should ask.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with speaking to Jesus like a confidant. You can and He most certainly is happy to sit with you and listen; but moaning and griping about people and things isn’t really going to solve your problems, is it? So what will?

“Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:24

Ask. Ask and you will receive. Ask and your joy will be full. Or in another words, ask and your problems will be solved. And that is exactly what Jesus is telling us that we should do. Moaning and griping, yeah alright, if you have to; but the crux, the thing you really need to do to get over the problem is, ask.

So let me paraphrase what my wife told me then, ‘Don’t worry about anything, just ask for everything.’

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is too simple. In fact, some of you may even think that I have simplified it to the point of dangerously misrepresenting the Bible. Alright, then let’s see what Jesus had to say about prayer, specifically.

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”” Luke 11:1-4

Let’s break it down, shall we?

The first thing that we need to do is this.

“When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.” Luke 11:2

Allow His will to be done in your life. Not yours, but His. Why? I hate to break it to you but He really does know better than you, doesn’t He? And He is in control of everything, isn’t He? So doesn’t it make sense to let the omnipotent and omniscient take care of things?

So what happens after you tell God that you are handing over the problem to Him?

“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Luke 11:3

Ask for provision.

“And forgive us our sins,…” Luke 11:4

Ask for forgiveness.

“…And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”” Luke 11:1-4

And ask for deliverance and protection.

So in summary, Jesus tells us that when we pray, we remind ourselves of who’s in charge, then ask, ask and ask.

Now if that is God’s instruction, how then does He rate prayers? Wait a minute, God rates prayers? You bet He does. And some prayers are better than others. I’ll show you two.

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.” 1 Chronicles 4:10

What was Jabez doing when he was praying? Yes. He was asking, and asking, and asking, and asking; for provision, for protection, for favor. So what did God do?

“So God granted him what he requested.” 1 Chronicles 4:10

God grated you what you requested lately? Been missing out on something, haven’t you?

What’s more, Jabez was no saint. He wasn’t even a ‘big shot’ as far as big shots go in the Bible. He was just an ordinary man, no notable works, no distinctive lineage. And yet, the Bible tells us that

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers” 1 Chronicles 4:9

Then compare that with this.

“And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.” Exodus 14:10

The nation prayed too. And what was God’s response?

“And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.” Exodus 14:15

Yes, alright, God still answered; and isn’t it such comfort that God answers us no matter what? But the point I’m trying to make was, He wasn’t very happy with the prayer, was He, God? The tone was altogether different from His tone to Jabez. So what did the people say when they prayed?

“Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”” Exodus 14:11-12
They were moaning and griping, complaining about the very deliverance that they were yearning for, for so many generations. They weren’t asking, were they?

And here’s the rub. Our God is a loving Father, one who answers prayers no matter what. So in due course and in the right season, you will receive. He has said so; and remember,

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

What He says will happen, will happen. He will answer.

But while we are on the way, while we are waiting for the season to arrive, He wants us to pray, and when we pray, He wants us to ask; because when we ask, we remind ourselves that He’s in charge and all we need to do is ask, for

“…Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” John 16:23

So beloved child of God, are you facing a trying situation? Do you want to pray but don’t know what to say? Jesus has made things very simple. Just ask. All that is in your heart, just ask. For the outcome that you desire, just ask. Don’t complain, don’t moan, don’t gripe. Just ask. For,

“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:24

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