Praying with Purpose
What is the purpose of prayer? Why are people drawn, compelled, inspired to pray and what does that look like in our lives? It’s interesting that while most people understand that prayer matters, they confess to a few thoughts related to prayer. Some may say: “I’m not very good at praying;” or “I’m not sure how to pray;” or “I’m not convinced that God really cares about what’s on my mind.”
Let me be clear: God absolutely cares about what’s on your heart and mind. He wants to hear from you and He’s not grading your prayer as to whether it is “good” or not so good. In fact, God is not concerned about grammar or syntax, like an English teacher might be. Do you know what God is really concerned about? He’s concerned about your humility and your heart. He’s waiting for you to call out, sometimes to even cry out to Him, believing that He is the only One who has the ability to provide what you need in that moment.
A lot of people wrongly believe that prayer is only about asking God for something. Although supplication, or asking God for something, is a part of prayer, it is not the sole purpose of prayer. Author Warren Wiersbe sums up the purpose of prayer when he writes: “The immediate purpose of prayer is the accomplishing of God’s will on earth; the ultimate purpose of prayer is the eternal glory of God.”
Prayer presents a number of opportunities for us. I’ll quickly give you three…
1) Prayer is our opportunity to commune with God.
Prayer is our opportunity to open up our hearts to God; after all, our hearts are where our deepest desires dwell. To commune is more than just to communicate. It evokes intimacy and depth. Jesus spent a lot of time communing wth God. We get a vivid picture of that in John 17 if you want to do further study. In the Gospels, we see plenty of examples of Jesus praying and often in a quiet place of solitude early in the morning. (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16)
Jesus had lots of demands on Him. Throngs of people were following Him and many wanted His attention, yet Jesus was very intentional about carving out time in His extremely busy schedule to commune with God. But I’m sure that early morning time in prayer was only the start of what would be a continual, on-going conversation with the Heavenly Father, much in the same way the Apostle Paul challenges us to pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Are you intentional about making time daily to “commune” with God, to seek His will and to continue communicating with Him throughout the day? (Psalm 40:8)
2) Prayer is our opportunity to petition God.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
What is one of the primary reasons we pray, according to this verse? Anxiety. If you think about it, nothing drives people to their knees in prayer quicker than anxiety created by adversity! When you’re going through a difficult season in life or you find yourself in a bad place, you will be anxious, stressed, worried. What do you long for when you find yourself in that “anxious” place in life? When we’re in conflict in any area of life, we want peace, we crave peace, we need peace. Prayer leads to peace! The antidote to anxiety is prayer. In life, we can get anxious about plenty of things. The Bible teaches us to worry about nothing and pray about everything.
Prayer is our opportunity to petition God, to admit we need His help and to ask for it! When we do, it relieves the anxiety that can overwhelm us in life and provides us with the peace we desperately crave.
3) Prayer is our opportunity to worship God.
Ultimately, the main purpose of prayer is worship. When we pray to the Lord, we recognize who He is and what He has done! Prayer is an act of worship. There are many examples of prayer being an act of worship in the Bible. (Reference 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 86:12-13; Romans 11:33-36). The focus of our prayers should not be on ourselves, but always on God; that is, Who He is, what He can do and what we can do through Him who gives us strength! (Phil. 4:13)
Christ-followers believe that for prayer to be effective, it must be offered in faith, in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit. To pray for praying's sake or to just have a “good thought” is not praying in the way the Bible teaches. Prayer is always made in faith and in Jesus’ name. (James 1:6; John 16:23)
For much more, click here to watch our worship service and listen to: Prayer Matters - Part 2 - Know Prayer’s Purpose.