Why Pray?

In my personal experience, I have noticed that prayer is not as great as I thought it was. I hardly pray anymore, not because I don’t believe that there is someone listening. I don’t pray as much because I lost faith in the act of praying itself. It simply does not seem to do much of a difference.
I mainly perceived it as a way to beg God to give me what I want.  Isn’t that what most people think of prayer these days? And if I don’t get what I want, then I must accept it as God’s will. But then, why ask for something as if God is a “vending machine”? Isn’t God supposed to be in control? Then why add more to his “control” by asking him to do certain things “my way”?
I was taught that prayer is composed of four parts: adoration, penitence, petition, and thanksgiving:

Adoration would be recognizing God’s greatness and power. It is all around us.  When I look at the stars, the mountains, a baby, and people’s charities, I see God’s manifestation on earth.  Now, why do I need to emphasize it even more by telling God about his greatness?  Doesn’t he already know?  Don’t I already acknowledge it by respecting each human being, admiring the stars, and taking care of the environment? I think by me living the greatness of God’s creation is the same as  “praying without ceasing.” I would not necessarily have to reserve a time specifically to acknowledge God’s greatness, if I live it on a daily basis.

Penitence is recognizing our sins and asking for forgiveness.  If I am already a believer, doesn’t that mean that I have already been forgiven? We are taught that Jesus died for all of our sins 2000 years ago, so why continue to ask for forgiveness? Some would say that we continue to sin, so we need to recognize our faults, even though we are forgiven.  But at the same time, no matter how much I sin, Jesus’ sacrifice should be enough to make me righteous, right? Or is it that we suspect that what Jesus did was not enough and, therefore, we need to make sure we are free from guilt through penitence?

Petition is the most interesting aspect of prayer.  We ask for things we want.  We ask for good health, stability, wisdom, and a lot more.  We sometimes ask in desperation when circumstances are difficult and extreme.  And when we receive what we prayed for, then we praise God even more and become more joyful (and religious).  When we don’t, then we are taught to accept it as God’s will and justify it by saying that “God is mysterious.” But then this puts God in a difficult situation, because it is almost like expecting God to meet our needs and demands, as if He works for us, even though we were created by Him.  It seems as if God owes us things.

I have heard many people deny the existence of God simply because he did not stop hundreds of children from starving to death, or did not prevent so many wars, or allowed the innocent to suffer from diseases.  And, because God did not meet our standards of what “God should do”, then we conclude He must not exist, or he is evil.  Petition is the most self-centered part of prayer.  It makes us almost like spoiled children who demand immediate gratification from the heavenly Father.

Thanksgiving is perhaps the part of prayer that makes more sense to me. It is simply the act of  appreciating what we have.  Instead of asking and begging for what we don’t have, like in petition, we give thanks for those things we already have.  I define true happiness as wanting what I already have, which is what thanksgiving is about.  Personally, I think we should do a lot more Thanksgiving, than Adoration, Penitence, or Petition.

So, rather than doing Adoration, I rather “live” Adoration by respecting God’s creation and living one day at a time.   Rather than doing Penitence, I rather accept my faults and ask others to forgive me and forgive as well.  Rather than expecting God to provide what I want, my way, and in my terms, I rather be content with what I have so that I can experience true happiness. And I will continue to give Thanks to God, for giving me what I already have, which is sufficient for me to survive so that I live a full life.

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About Noel

I am a person who has realized that the teachings of Jesus are centralized in the genuine care and service of others. I have evolved from fundamentalism to a moderate spiritual approach. I am a reflecting person who has grown to not fear doubt but to embrace it as a means to growth and increasing closeness to God. View all posts by Noel

6 responses to “Why Pray?

  • Anna

    Sometime ago I came across your blog and was very intrigued by the title. I spent several days reading most of your older posts and it was during that time that something fell into place for me and I began to see and understand better that the Kingdom of Heaven.

    The Kingdom of Heaven is here (or a person can bring it here) because it is God’s reign and rule, it is his government over your life. “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on this earth the way it is done in Heaven”

    The Kingdom of Solomon was the closest any earthly kingdom ever came to realizing the Kingdom of Heaven. Solomon ruled with Godly Binah wisdom, Israel was at peace with all its neighbors, gold and silver were in such abundance, silver was thrown out on the streets.

    (I know Jesus will return and reign on earth after his second coming). Until that happens though, we are supposed to live the Kingdom of Heaven here on this earth. It is through us demonstrating the Kingdom that we disciple the nations.
    We preach and live the kingdom by – heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, cast out demons, feed the hungry etc.
    We do these things because in the Kingdom of Heaven there is no sickness, disease, no poverty, no lack etc.

    How does this tie in to Prayer –
    Ro. 3:4 …Let God be true, and every man a liar (because no one will be able to accuse God on the day of judgment saying He didn’t do this or that for them).
    God answers every prayer because 2Cor 1:20 says For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “YES” in Christ…and Amen. (All Prayers prayed according to God’s will are answered Yes and Amen).

    How is it then that as believers we don’t always see a manifestation of the things we pray for?

    1. As you rightly said, most of us pray by begging God for things: healing, food, money, house, car etc.
    When we ask or beg God to heal us or someone we love, He can only answer one way: “By my stripes you WERE healed”

    Example of how one should pray for healing-
    “Sickness, I command you to go right now in the name of Jesus, Amen”
    Very simple, very short.

    If you need food or money, give food or money (doesn’t matter even if it’s .50c or $1 to someone or some organization that is sowing into the Kingdom ex. missionaries teaching the good news of the gospel with demonstrations etc. Buying even $1 in food for the homeless/hungry. This is what sowing into the Kingdom is.

    You want to have more than enough so that you can and will be a blessing to many others. Not just money, but time, and most of all Love.
    That is why the greatest commandment is Love.
    When we Love each other as Christ loves us, then we will be moved by compassion when we see how oppressed of the devil some people might be. It is this compassion that Jesus had and destroyed the works of the devil.

    Likewise we who are in training to reign with Him, must use the power and authority that Jesus gave to us to destroy the works of the devil in people’s lives.

    Jesus is not coming back to do these things; He already defeated the enemy. We are fighting an enemy that’s already defeated who still attacks people, so we’re fighting from a position of victory already.
    The same Holy Spirit (Wisdom) that raised Jesus from the dead resides in all believers, we just have to know, believe, and accept this and preach and do the Kingdom of Heaven. We have to seek and save those who are lost, and we can only do this through LOVE.

    God Bless

    I will include some viewing and reading material and I pray you’ll watch and read them to grow and increase in faith. (Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God).

    I would also recommend:
    47 All that Jesus Began to Do and to Teach (This is teaching on the Kingdom by Curry Blake). Worth watching.

  • Don Hartness

    Did I stir something in you? 😉

    A few thoughts…

    I believe, if you are living out your adoration by what you do, you are praying without using words or, in other words, letting your actions speak louder than your words. Why say it then? Some (many) feel the need to express what others already know, because we have some innate desire to be heard and acknowledged. Praying to God and adoring what God has done with words is much the same for others, but not necessary, as long as you are expressing it somehow (and it sounds as if you are).

    Spoken penitence is much the same, with a slight twist. Sure, I can tell when a person feels guilty over trespassing against me, but until they say it, there’s no forgiveness. Otherwise, why not say it? There’s something powerful concerning spoken penitence, or confession as it is commonly referred, although the psychological aspects of why this is so is far too much for this comment.

    Your description of how people use petition is the most common take, and also the most commonly misunderstood aspect of prayer. We petition to understand God more through what He grants and does not grant. The end result of petition prayer is to learn what is appropriate to ask for, which has a foundation and/or root in the simple statement “Thy will be done”. Petition, then, is to understand, exactly, what that will is:
    http://donhartness.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/ask-part-1/

    However, what is often left out of petition is the relational state of the petitioner. Do you grant any and all requests from anybody that comes along? I wonder why some people think they can be downright evil to others, and then think they can ask a good God for what they selfishly want…

    As for thanksgiving, I see thanksgiving as a kissing cousin of adoration. Regardless, I agree with your conclusion wholeheartedly. Just some additional food for thought that I wanted to throw in. Appreciate you.

    • Noel

      “Some (many) feel the need to express what others already know, because we have some innate desire to be heard and acknowledged.”
      Don, this is one of my concerns about the nature of prayer. We need to be acknowledged by listening to ourselves asking for things and adoring God. Which means it is truly about us, not God.

      It is also interesting how many people interpret certain situations as if they know what God is up to. For example, “God allowed grandma to go to the hospital so that the family can spend some time together…” We like to justify circumstances that initially seem unfavorable or mysterious, just to ease the anxiety that we experience. So we throw God into the equation so that it is finally justified and accepted by all.
      Another example is “God must have caused the earthquake/hurricane/etc, so that the nations can come together and help…”
      How can we dare put God in a little box in order to meet our needs and reflect how we humans would operate?

      • Don Hartness

        “We need to be acknowledged by listening to ourselves asking for things and adoring God. Which means it is truly about us, not God.” Yes, at first, this is exactly what it is. Children also believe that it is all about them, until they learn that there are others. Usually, this comes in adulthood, when they are forced too by their boss, college, circumstances, etc. But it’s all good. God is many things, but the parental aspect will always be one of those characteristics. If we desire to grow, we’ll get there and, eventually, the request becomes a simple affirmation of what we know God will already do. We still ask for it, but we do so out of relationship, not out of need or desire that is lacking faith. That asking also allows for surprises. “I know you asked for this, but watch this! I’m going to do one better for you!”

        The interpretation is also reminiscent of children. Drawing cause and effect where none exists is something children do as well, until they grow out of it. There’s a difference between putting a cause into motion for the simple reason of allowing an effect, and allowing a cause so that a subsequent effect can happen. It’s clear that God allows suffering. The suffering would happen with or without a response. But the suffering provides an opportunity to awaken us to what is important, and to awaken others.

        Why is s**t allowed? Because flowers need fertilizer. 🙂

        The problem is not that God is in a little box. The core message of Christianity is that God stepped into a little box for His children. The problem lies in the fact that we try to place Him in OUR little box, or we try to take the box for ourselves to the detriment of others.

        Recommended reading: “Letters to Malcolm” by C.S. Lewis. There seems to be sites where you can download it as a pdf for free.

  • Noel

    Don, your statement that petition is based on relationship sounds good. But unfortunately that is not how most people view it. People use prayer as a way to have God do things their way. Few people pray “Thy will be done…” but many pray “please grant me this and that…” I agree when you said that we try to place god in OUR little boxes, because that is exactly what I meant. We try to limit God by hoping that He does what we would do if we were Him, instead of acknowledging that he knows what is right and simply letting it be.

  • Tuned in: Testing God once again | Living the Kingdom

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