There are lots of reasons why people pray: it makes it feel good, it gives us a sense of calm, it helps us to deal with our problems, etc. And these are all good reasons to pray and good benefits of prayer.
But the problem is that these are very self-centred reasons for prayer and they rely very heavily on our feelings and emotions. Feelings are good, but feelings don’t always match with what we know to be true. There are times when we feel that God is distant and far away from us even though the truth is He is always with us. There are times when we feel too guilty to be in relationship with God even though the truth is He has dealt with our guilt and sin.
And so, if our feelings are all that motivate us to pray we will then become hostage to the unreliable ups and downs of our emotions. We need some more stable and consistent reasons to motivate us to pray, reasons that do no rely on us but on God’s unchanging character.
The Bible gives us at least 3 God-centred reasons to pray.
The first reason is Because God Cares.
Psalm 103 paints a majestic picture of God’s compassion for his creatures and his intimate concern for his people. “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
Because God cares for us we can bring all our problems, our joys, and our requests to him.
The second reason is Because God is Powerful.
Psalm 104 leaves us in no doubt about who is in control over this world. “He set the earth on it’s foundations” and he continues to look after the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and raises each blade of grass from the earth and every plant. “All things look to you to give them their food at the proper time”. God is sovereign over all things (read Job 38-41 if you still need convincing!).
Because God is powerful we pray with confidence that he is able to do something about our requests and petitions.
The third reason is Because God is Our Father.
Romans 8 describes the wonderful new privilege of the Christian life: No longer are we condemned enemies of God, but in Christ Jesus we are now God’s children. It’s no coincidence that as Paul talks about our adoption as God’s children he then talks about prayer “the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” and “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Because God is our father we have access to his listening ear 24/7 and the privilege of praying to him at any-time in any place about any-thing.
For many of us prayer if often a struggle – we’re too tired, too distracted, too busy, too lazy, too overwhelmed, too guilty, too whatever… But perhaps if we can just remember that God cares, God is powerful and God is our father then maybe we’ll be more driven to come before God in prayer for ourselves, our church, our neighbour and our world.