Why Do We Pray?
Why Do Christians Pray?
Is Christianity a religion or a relationship? Is it a practice or a supremely interpersonal connection?
What is religion anyway?
According to Wikipedia “Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviours and practices, morals, worldview, texts, sanctified places, prophesies, ethics, or organisations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental or spiritual elements. However there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes religion.”
And that is a very broad brush stroke. It covers just about everything; except for the idea of a profoundly personal relationship with the creator of life.
According to an article from khanacademy.org (which is a not for profit online educational organisation whose mission is to provide a free, world‑class education on almost every subject, for anyone, anywhere – check it out here) Hinduism for example has no historical founder. It has no single agreed upon divine text revealed by a single supreme creator. What it has is a large and diverse body of sacred scripture relating to a wide concept of deity that appears in many forms.
Those who practice Buddhism do so with great care and devotion, and are most certainly deeply concerned about becoming better people. They care about making the world a better place.
Yet the Buddha argued against the possibility of the existence of a supreme creator of the universe. The Buddha believed that everything was created by the mind.
But Buddhist definitely do pray, as do Hindus who pray to many gods and goddesses. Buddhists pray to understand what they call Buddhanature, a state of boundless compassion and wisdom. They pray as a form of meditation to let go of the world and to better understand the self.
The Divine Nature of Christ.
As Christians we can certainly understand all of these ideals. Christ as the Supreme Being in human form came with a revolutionary message of compassion for all.
But more than that, as Christians we don’t have to meditate or engage in rituals to unearth “secrets” hidden from our eyes, veiled from our disillusioned minds.
For… “This is what the Lord says, he who make the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it – the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33: 2-3(New International Version (NIV))
God has no desire to hide himself or his mercies from His creation; He desires only that we come to Him in prayer, and through His word.
Our Father’s desire for all of mankind is mercy. (Hosea 6:6).
Christ showed his compassion for women, whatever their situation (Luke 7:36-50). He showed His compassion for the poor and the least regarded (Mathew 25:40). And also for the outcasts (Luke 8: 26:39).
And when we walk with Christ and try to be like Him we are aiming for the very best that a human being can possibly become.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV).
As Christians we understand that the best and the highest ideals come directly from the mouth of God. We know there is a supreme creator of the universe because He has always communicated His love to us.
God reveals Himself to us today in the person of Jesus, so that we can always be in constant communication with Him.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word…” Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV)
But if God communicates with us in so many ways…
“But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, He will speak only what He hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13(NIV)
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14(NIV)
How do we communicate with God?
I believe that prayer is a language that opens doors. I have always been struck by the entreaties of Abraham at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. When God already knew exactly what He was going to do and exactly what Abraham was going to say, did He really need Abraham’s intervention to change His mind?
God already exists in every point is space and time, in every “moment”. We are bound to the temporal while God is unbounded and knows the end from the beginning.
And so why did Abraham pray? Why did the prophets pray? Why did Jesus spend so much time in prayer? Because prayer is the language that opens the most important door of all; the door to the human heart.
God is a communicator. He is the supreme overarching communicator of the universe. I believe that all of creation is a dialogue.
God spoke and the stuff of the universe responded and became life. The dust of the stars dances when God speaks and becomes the stuff of our souls.
When we pray to God we open our souls. We give back to God all that He has given to us by placing our faith and our trust in Him our Father and revealing willingly to Him all that we are and all that we feel.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7 (NIV).
“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfils the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145: 18-19(NIV).
It doesn’t matter that our Father knows all of these things anyway. What matters is that we share with him willingly as He has shared with us. The dust of the earth in our every molecule desires to respond to the music of the heavenly spheres, in the universe that God has created, when we pray our hearts desires to Him.