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Why Do We Pray?

On a recent business trip that took me from Dallas to Colorado, I met up with a colleague in ministry, Tim Sigman. Tim works with International Students, Inc. (ISI) and is the area director for ministry on college campuses throughout the Front Range of Colorado. Our time together was full and intense. We visited and planned—and we prayed! I came to understand better why we pray.

Tim is a man who prays. Every morning finds him and his wife prayer-walking. Around the streets in their neighborhood or on college campuses, they meet neat people. As they pray for the people and circumstances, they show God’s love. Throughout the day, as needs come up, Tim also prays “breath prayers.” And why not? God answers many of his prayers—even ones that seem to be clearly impossible.

Observing Tim’s life of prayer got me to thinking about the nature of prayer. If God has everything in His hands and knows what He is going to do already, why do we need to pray? Why does God even bother to answer our prayers? I remember once hearing someone at an ISI national conference say, when presented with this quandary, “Because it works! When I pray, God answers.”

To be honest, I wasn’t totally satisfied with that answer. Is prayer like a power pill in a video game or called power in an anime that makes us “invincible”—overpowered to give us all the resources we need to impose our will (and hopefully God’s purpose) in Jesus’ name? That didn’t feel right to me.

Time with Tim got me to thinking about the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9–13. It reminded me again just why we pray.

“Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.” As we begin praying by focusing on how amazing God is, the troubles and cares of this earth become much smaller. And when we pray and God answers, we and those around us learn more about God’s character and how He is worthy of praise.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Everything Jesus did—what He taught, what He prayed for, why He did miracles, His parables and stories, even the gospel He taught—was about His kingdom. Jesus wants to show His kingdom not just to us, but also to those around us. When we pray and He answers, people around us see God’s authority and the working out of His kingdom through His people.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” I often forget that it is God who provides for us and not ourselves. Our utter dependence on Him—our need to abide in Him—is the essence of the kingdom life. The first sin—and every subsequent sin—has been caused by people wanting to get their way on their own terms. Praying for our daily bread puts us in our place and allows people to see how God provides for those in His kingdom.

“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I am learning a lot about triggers and times when I respond overly-aggressively to things done to me. We can become slaves to attitudes that are unconfessed and injuries that remain unspoken and unprocessed. God knows this, so a huge part of prayer is confession—both to God and man. What greater testimony to the kingdom than a person set free from the chains of sin!

“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Every day we are confronted with spiritual warfare. The world, the flesh, and the devil are daily arrayed against us, so we must daily put on the armor of God. Prayer slows us down and focuses us on what is most important. When we pray, God gives us victory in spiritual warfare.

“For yours is the kingdom and power and glory forever.” Prayer is all about God’s kingdom, power, and glory being shown to the world—both to us who believe and to those around us who are not yet believers. Through prayer, we learn to recognize God at work as we trust in Him.

In short, through prayer, we know that we have a real and genuine God who is involved in building His kingdom, and He has invited us to be an active part. When we consistently pray to our loving, redeeming, and present God, and we see Him answer in spite of our rebellious and obviously flawed ways, then His kingdom is showcased and magnified for all the world to see.

“…Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1b).

Roy Yabuki is a Jesus-follower, husband to Lisa, and father to Jonathan, Timothy, and Charis. He loves mentoring international students to become disciple-makers who make disciple-makers, helping them to become leaders who make leaders. Serving with International Students, Inc. for 25 years in California and Texas, he is presently field director for the Rocky Mountain and Plains regions. He is a member of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20220205
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Apr-Jun 2022. CCMUSA.