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 the question, “Why pray?” I’ve asked it myself. It’s a fair question. I’m glad you asked. But more importantly, so is God. But do you want to know something? He’d be happier if you asked Him.
What is the purpose of praying?
Because God’s very intent from the beginning was to create us for relationship. The whole purpose of praying is that prayer is the fundamental means through which we relate to God. 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.
How to grow in your relationship with God
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 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.
Why do we pray to God?
You see, prayer is all about relationship. Growing in relationship is one reason why we pray to God. 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.)
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
Hope Prevails and the Hope Prevails Bible Study are must-reads for anyone suffering from depression or knows someone suffering from depression.
“I often see the long-term and devastating effects of the hard to define, hard to leave behind, ravages of depression. It seeks to wear down and wear out our hope. When longing to help another caught in despair, I’m acutely aware of how inadequate I am to help them, realizing that Christian platitudes and casual verses only serve to make them feel more alone or misunderstood. In Hope Prevails, Dr. Michelle Bengtson provides some profound wisdom for us all. By sharing her own transparent journey of recovery, Michelle offers a break-through approach that focuses on the spiritual component of recovery as a means to overcome. This book finds the cross roads between treatment and faith. What you hold in your hand is a rare gift. It’s hard to find a person who will be so honest about his or her own struggle in order to help you with yours. It’s a double blessing when that person also possesses the expertise, experience and grace to meet your needs. I recommend this book, and this woman, to those caught in the trap of depression. There is hope and it does prevail.” Jan Greenwood Pastor of Pink, Gateway Women ~ Gateway Church, Southlake Texas, Author of Women at War
I love this post on prayer, thank you for posting this. My biggest challenge is my prayer life and it is something I have been working on. I just look at prayer as having conversations with God and that really helps me not to be intimidated by it. Now I pray throughout the day whenever I feel like it. I have learned that I don’t have to sit and pray for 30+ minutes at at a time, although I do think regularly planned prayer time is good too I like that fact that I can pray to HIm whenever and wherever.
What a beautiful post! I am so thankful that we can pray to God at any time and know that He is listening. I love to start the day by praising Him before I open my eyes and before my feet touch the floor. I also love to open the front door and then, the back door and say, “Thank you, God, for this glorious day.” 🙂 Prayer is powerful.
Thank you for this reminder of the importance of prayer, even seasoned Christians need to remember the power of prayer. I have learned to pray through the scriptures in my daily devotional time. Isn’t wonderful that God loves to hear from us.?
Amen and amen! I have asked myself the same question as Confused, as well, but am happy to report that talking to the Lord is a wonderful thing, indeed! Two of my favorite kinds of prayers (there are more kinds, I know) are the through-the-day, ongoing conversational prayer (mostly me chatting his ear off!), and then we have the quiet, read-the-Word/ponder/wait for His answers prayers that become so precious in hearing back from Him.
Beautiful post and reminder of the importance of prayer.
Dr. B, I love the prescription straight from the doctor’s office. You’ve provided much encouragement and hope in this response as well as a great reminder for us to sit at Jesus’ feet because He loves us. Thank you, my friend. I’ll be sharing this with others as I focus more on prayer this week.
Marva | sunSPARKLEshine
Thanks for the needed reminder that prayer is about relationship, connection, intimacy! When we take it off our ‘to-do’ list, powerful things begin to happen!
We have been to so many seminars on prayer and with one simple question you have answered all of my questions about prayer and I can understand it and I am excited about it. I have always thought prayer was about a relationship with the Lord where I talk He listens and He talks and I listen. And then it even goes deeper into praise and worship and having an intimate flowing relationship with the Lord that allows us to enter the very throne room of God and have a visit. He loves us that much and wants to spend time with us so much. Thank you Dr. B. I look forward to even more questions and answers that I can understand and apply to my life.
I’m so glad that despite all your knowledge and training, that this post was able to give you some food for thought. #PrayOn!
Yes loved this – to give God opportunity to share with us – listening is also an important part of praying. Thank you for the reminder.