December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.”—1 Peter 3:12 (NIV)
“The God of all grace.” That’s what the apostle Peter calls Him in 1 Peter 5:10. That word grace (Greek: charis) . . . it means “favor extended.” It implies a gift or blessing, a loving kindness; it’s where we get our English word for charity. So, God is the giver of all blessing, all gifts, all loving kindness, and all favor. He is the giver of EVERYTHING that is good. And one of the chief vehicles through which He extends all grace to us is through prayer!
In the most basic terms possible, prayer is talking to God; it’s a conversation between us and God. But as one Christian author said, “Prayer, for the Christian, is not merely talking to God, but responding to the One who has initiated toward us. He has spoken first. This is not a conversation we start, but a relationship into which we’ve been drawn. His voice breaks the silence.”
In prayer, we’re speaking to the One who has spoken to us through creation itself (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1–4), the One who has spoken grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) and peace (Psalm 46:10) and love (John 3:16) over us, the One who has spoken the words of truth (John 6:68) and life (John 10:10), who has shown us the way (John 14:6). In light of this, prayer is thus a response, a reflex to the grace He gives us.
Prayer is our two-way relational lifeline, a lifeline that is made available to us through the person and work of God’s Son, Jesus Christ and by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us.
God knows what I’m going to pray before I do it, He knows my heart better than I do, He knows my needs, my desires, my dreams, my fears, and the areas I need Him most. So, why do we pray? It’s not because we get anything from God, but because we get God! John Piper once wrote, “It is not wrong to want God’s gifts and ask for them. Most prayers in the Bible are for the gifts of God. But ultimately, every gift should be desired because it shows us and brings us more of Him.”
In the simplest terms, the purpose of our prayers is for us to experience more of God! In every request, every expression, every question, every pleading, every confession and revelation, everything we ask for or declare in prayer, the endgame of prayer is to know on the deepest level possible the God who saves and sustains and redeems and restores, the God who has made a way for us to know Him, be found in Him, and be His beloved children and heirs.
Augustine once said that nothing happens in this universe apart from the will of God. So, if God is sovereign and knows all things from eternity to eternity, if He knows my heart, my hurts, my intentions and requests and knew them even before the foundations of the universe were laid, why pray at all?
Two reasons . . .
1. We pray because our sovereign God, in His holy and perfect Word, commands us to pray. Aside from being a lifeline to relationship, prayer is not optional for the Christian; it is an expectation. So regardless of whether God knows what you’re going to pray before you pray it, if He knows what you need and what you are struggling with, God commands us to pray, so we pray!
But here’s the thing: He doesn’t just command us to pray…
2. We pray because our merciful and loving God INVITES us to pray! God wants to hear from you. In fact, God is readier to hear from us than you are to pray. Think about that . . . He wants to interact with you. He desires more than a head knowledge, shallow, hypothetical relationship. The God of all grace wants to fill you with all His grace beyond your ability to measure.
You see that? Prayer isn’t for God, it’s FOR us! Friends, prayer isn’t for God, it’s for us! It honors and glorifies God, it blesses His heart to hear from us and have sit with us in relationship… but the one who is transformed and changed, who benefits exponentially and eternally from this discipline of conversation is you!
God doesn’t desire prayer from us, He desires it FOR US! Again, the purpose of prayer is for us to experience more of God! In prayer, our relationship with Him blossoms as we know Him more deeply, experience His presence more clearly, and are comforted, strengthened, empowered, inspired, equipped, and sanctified by drawing near to Him. In consistent, biblical prayer, we develop intimacy with Jesus and become more like Jesus as we have more of Jesus in our heart, mind, and soul. So we pray!
Yes! James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Suppose God has ordained by His will and purposes to heal someone of cancer three months from now. If God has ordained it, it will happen and cannot fail to happen. The event is fixed. But so is every other event leading up to that moment—including the prayers offered on behalf of the person with cancer.
God not only ordains the end result, He also ordains the means through which it is accomplished. He plans and redeems both the destination and the journey. God governs all events in his universe—including the “small” ones leading up to the “big” ones.
What happens in the future, then, does depend on what we do and pray in the present because God has ordained that we pray for it, over it, in it, and through it.
Understand that we don’t change God’s mind, but some things have happened only because they were prayed for; they would not have happened if they were not prayed for.
In both Scripture and our own lives, God responds to prayer.
Moses prayed for food and water for the Israelites.
Hannah prayed for a child.
Elijah prayed for drought and then for rain.
God had already determined that these things would came to pass, and He also determined that Moses, Hannah, and Elijah would pray for those things, such that the events would not have taken place if they did not pray for them. One Christian author put it this way: “We must never presume God will grant us apart from prayer what He has ordained to grant us only by means of prayer.”
To say we don’t need to pray because God has ordained the ends is as ridiculous as saying we don’t need to take medicine, work and make money, look for a spouse, or make wise decisions for our future, because God’s will shall be done anyway. It is true God has purposed and ordained things, but God has also purposed and ordained the means by which those outcomes will take place. And in everything, He has purposed that His people pray. So, we pray!
So, it can be said well that prayer not only changes thing, prayer also changes us!
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.