Lord, Teach Us Why To Pray

Dear CBC community,

This month I have invited you to spend one hour in prayer with the prayer partner of your choice to intercede for CBC.  You can sign up and find the prayer guide on the CBC website under “prayer.”

But this invitation begs the question “Why?”  Why should I or you take the time and effort to pray?  Why bother? Does it really make a difference? Is it really necessary?  Can’t we get along without it? Will it really matter if you or I pray or not?

In Luke’s gospel (11:1) the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us (how) to pray” but I wished they had asked him, “Lord, teach us why to pray.”  

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I have wondered about and struggled with this “why” my entire Christian life.  I do pray daily but not with the steadfast commitment and dedication that at least some others have.  I think I tend to default to a deistic world-view in which God has set the world in motion but is removed from it.  However I am a steadfast and dedicated Bible reader and the Scriptures continually testify to a positive and expectant view of prayer.  So I take note and invite the Lord to continue to shape my mind, heart, and practice of prayer: “Lord, teach me why to pray.” So if you also struggle to devote yourselves to prayer, I offer here some thoughts that motivate me to pray.

First, God is involved in this world.  Theologians call this “immanence.” God has not created the world and walked away as in deism.  Not at all! Rather God is enthroned over the world as Creator and is deeply involved in this world as God!  And since our Creator is involved in the world as our God, we are invited to pray to God as those dependent upon him and expectant of him.  Furthermore, prayer is more than asking; it also involves praising, thanking, and confessing. Thanking is probably the one thing that most pleases God for when we give thanks we acknowledge his goodness in providing us with what we need.

Second, we are involved in this world.  God’s sovereignty does not deny our real involvement in this world.  Rather we are God’s image bearers, tasked with the ruling of God’s creation in freedom.  In other words, God rules this world through us as we follow his leadership. This is a high risk move because we can choose not to follow his leadership.  This is a great motivation for prayer in that we appeal to God for the power and gifts that we need to fulfill our responsibility as his rulers over his world.  We were never meant to rule apart from our Ruler. Prayer is a purposeful connecting our our lives and wills to God. How can we possibly rule without God’s help and guidance?

This connection between God and humanity is demonstrated in Jesus’ life and ministry.  Consider John 5:17,19: “Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working’...’I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.’” Following God’s lead is surely why Jesus spent so much time in prayer (Matthew 26:36-44; Mark 1:35; Luke 3:21; 4:42; 5:16; John 17).  How much more do we need to come before God’s throne of grace for his mercy, power, and direction?

These thoughts help me to pray and I hope they stir you as well.  Will you spend an hour in prayer for CBC this month?

Blessings,

P Dan