Summary: This is the first in a series on prayer, answering hte question what are the priorities, purpose and promise of prayer found in John 17
WHAT JESUS IS PRAYING FOR HPC
One night a father heard his young daughter speaking, although she was alone in her room. The door was cracked just enough so that he could see that she was kneeling beside her bed in prayer. Interested to find out what subjects a child would bring before God, he paused outside her door and listened. After tuning in to her speech he was puzzled to hear her reciting the alphabet: "A, B, C, D, E, F, G …" She just kept repeating it. He didn’t want to interrupt her, but soon curiosity go the best of him and he broke into prayer, "Honey," he asked, "what are you doing?"
"I’m praying, Daddy," she replied.
"Well, why are you praying the alphabet?" he asked.
She explained, "I started my prayers, but I wasn’t sure what to pray. I decided to just say all the letters of the alphabet and let God put them together however he thinks best."
Have you ever felt that way?
We know prayer is important. We know that prayer is essential for our spiritual growth. But how should we pray? What should we pray for? How do we pray in faith? Can I do anything that will hinder my prayer? How do I pray in faith for my family?
For the next five weeks we are going to address each of these relevant questions.
When the topic of prayer is discussed, inevitably the question is asked, “If God knows everything in advance, then why pray?’
I am not going to try to best some of the greatest theologians in answering this real question, but let me say this to begin,
We pray because he’s God and we’re not.
This of course is the first rule of the spiritual life. All prayer is based on this simple truth. He runs the universe, we don’t. We pray because he’s in charge and we’re not.
And here’s a crucial insight. When we don’t pray, it’s because we’ve forgotten who’s God and who’s not.
A lack of prayer means we’re still trying to run the show. It’s a sign that we’ve decided we can handle things on our own.
And that brings us back to the original question. If God is sovereign, why pray?
Without wanting to insult anyones intelligence, let me simply say we pray
“Because he commanded us to,”.
James writes, You have not because you ask not. Prayer is not an exercise we dutifully oerorm when we are in trouble or when the situation is right. If we want to know the will, purpose, and promise of God realized then we must pray.
Sometimes you see little signs that say, “Prayer changes things.” I believe that’s true. And the first thing prayer changes is us. It teaches us to depend completely on our Heavenly Father, and it reminds us that he’s God and we’re not.
Why pray if God knows everything in advance?
Prayer is partnering with God to change the world!
Because God has ordained that our prayers are part of his plan for the universe. Our prayers really do matter to God. In a sense God limits what he can do in the world so that he can work through our prayers. It’s not that God “needs” our prayers. He doesn’t. But in his kindness and mercy, he has invited us to join him in the great adventure of bringing his kingdom to this sin-cursed planet.
We pray because Jesus Himself has set an example for us how and why we should pray.
The gospels reveal that the secret to Jesus’ success in ministry was a LIFESTYLE of prayer, as Dr. Myles Monroe notes,
Of all the things Jesus’ disciples observed Him say and do, the Bible records only one thing they asked Him to teach them, and that was how to pray ( Luke 11:1).
We might wonder, ‘Why would the disciples ask to learn to pray rather than do all the BIG things like feeding multitudes, calming storms, casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead or walking on water?’
It is because they saw Jesus pray more than anything else.
For example, the gospels record that, ‘Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.(Mark 1:35)
After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. (matthew 14:23)
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”Matthew 26:36)
After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.(Mark 6:46)
One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened,(Luke 3:21)
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. (Luke 5:16)