Dear Dr. B,
I want to grow in my relationship with God, and it really is my desire to depend on Him to guide me. But there are some things about prayer that I don’t really understand. If God already has my life planned out, what difference does it make if I pray and ask Him for things? Can I really expect God to answer my prayers?
Confused About Prayer
You’re not alone in asking it. I’ve asked it myself. It’s a fair question. I’m glad you asked this question. But more importantly, so is God. But do you want to know something? He’d be happier if you asked Him.
Why? Because God’s very intent from the beginning was to create us for relationship, and prayer is the fundamental means through which we relate to Him. It is through prayer that we express our heart to God and through which we get to know His heart toward us.
Consider this: in a marital relationship, I may know my spouse really well. But my desire is to know his thoughts and feelings about things, rather than assume. The only way for me to know for sure is to ask him and let him tell me himself. Yes, God already knows what we think and feel, but He desires for us to actively share with Him, and to give Him the opportunity to actively share with us.
You expressed a desire to grow in your relationship with God. Two of the best ways to continually grow in your relationship with God are to study His word and to communicate with Him in prayer.
God encourages us to bring our desires to Him, and ask Him for what we need because it reminds us of our relationship to Him and our dependence on Him. He is the only one who can satisfy our every need. When we bring Him our needs, He responds according to His good and perfect will for our lives, always for our good and for His glory. I think sometimes God is just waiting to bless us until we humble ourselves and ask Him for what we need. Priscilla Shirer has said, “Prayer is the portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth.”
But there is another aspect to consider about prayer. Our prayers are not just an avenue of petition. While God does encourage us to ask Him to meet our needs, it’s only part of the purpose of prayer. Prayer is also a vehicle of expression of praising God for who He is and thanksgiving for all He has done and all He is going to do. Prayer is also the avenue He has created for us to repair our relationship with Him, by confessing and repenting of the times we have gone our own way.
You see, prayer is all about relationship. The enemy of our soul would like us to believe our prayers are futile because “God already has my life planned out,” thereby convincing us our prayers won’t make a difference and that we don’t need to pray. But think of it this way, if I don’t talk to my spouse because I already know him and how he generally thinks, over time we will grow distant and estranged. I will then know him and his true heart toward me less and less. The same is true in our relationship with God. Friend, do not allow yourself to be deceived by the enemy. Prayer is a gift from our Heavenly Father as a vehicle to grow close to Him through sharing our heart with Him, and hearing His heart for us.
Perhaps the very best place to start is asking the very question you asked me to Him and listening for His answer.
May your prayers draw you ever closer to the Father’s heart as you learn how very much you are loved by Him.
Because of Him,
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)