4 Reasons to Pray that Go Beyond My Physical Needs
We usually think of prayer as asking things of God or at least talking to Him, thanking Him and praising Him.
However, let me suggest that prayer is first of all listening to God.
In prayer God has our attention. We don’t have to ask for His attention; we already have it. Ours is not the problem of getting God to listen but of our being too busy, unconcerned, or preoccupied to listen to Him.
Take time to listen to God and you will find Him eager to share with you on the most personal or intimate of levels. Take time to listen to God and you will find yourself far more ready and willing to accept His answers to your prayers even though they may be contrary to your desires or expectations.
God sometimes answers our prayers with an immediate “Yes,” sometimes with an immediate “No,” sometimes with “Wait, be patient,” and sometimes with “I’ve got something far better in mind.” Only as we learn to listen can we properly discern and accept His answer.
All of this leads to a second purpose in prayer, that of entering into close intimate fellowship with God. . . .
We don’t have to wait for a tornado to strike in order to learn that God wants us to enter into a close, intimate, personal relationship with Him. The deepest level of your spirit is the level at which God’s Holy Spirit communes with you, Christian. When you pray, your spirit and the Holy Spirit enter into a spiritual communion.
In a book of letters that children have addressed to God, a little boy named Eric writes, “Dear God, is it okay to talk to you even when I don’t want anything? Love, Eric.” It’s not just okay, Eric, it’s what God wants. He wants all of us to enter into a loving, trusting relationship with Him, developed and expressed by prayer.
I love my children and grandchildren and I’ll do my best to see that their needs are met. Most often I am aware of those needs even before they talk to me about them. Yet, it is the communication, the fellowship, and the communion which I enjoy with them that makes me all the more desirous of meeting their needs. Praying, “Our Father,” is not only a special privilege but denotes a very special relationship.
Furthermore, prayer is for the purpose of being in the will of God.
In John 15:7, Jesus said,
“If you abide in me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”
Prayer and abiding in Christ, and doing the will of God go hand in hand. If we live in Him, and if His words are a part of our lives, then we can confidently petition God. But only “If!” Only then will we know what to ask of God. Thus the discipline of prayer is a primary means of spiritual growth, for it leads us to seek and to do the will of the Lord.
Actually, sincere Christian prayer cannot be offered outside the context of a prayerful life. We live as we pray and we pray as we live. If we live in the spirit of self-service where all that is important is what we want, then we will pray in the expectation that we can manipulate God. But if we pray abiding in Christ, we will pray according to God’s will. Jesus taught us to pray,
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Sincerely prayed, that is an affirmation that we are bringing our lives into harmony with God’s will. “Not my will but thine be done.”
Fourth, prayer is an expression of faith and a means of strengthening that faith.
Faith is a precondition of prayer. James 1:6-7 says,
“Let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.”
Even the father of the demonized boy of Mark 9 cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” What do you suppose happened when Jesus responded to his plea and helped his son and delivered his son of the unclean spirit? Don’t you think that man was strengthened in his faith?
Faith exercised becomes a stronger faith.
That was the case with Abraham who, “By faith . . . when he was called, obeyed . . . and he went out not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Later he had faith when God told him that even at one hundred years of age he would have a son. Romans 4:20 tells us,
“He did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith.”
Likewise, prayer as an exercise of faith becomes a means whereby that faith is strengthened. I have seen God respond again and again in response to prayers of faith from His children and I cannot help but believe!
Faith exercised becomes a stronger faith.
(Excerpted from John Caldwell, Intimacy with God: Christian Disciplines for Spiritual Growth [Xulon Press, 2009], 31-34. Used with permission.)