Why should we pray? Does God really care?

By Liz Linssen
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

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s with any relationship in life, there are certain foundations that need to be in place in order for it to function as best as it should. What I‟m talking about are those essential qualities such as trust, open communication and the knowledge that the other person cares about you. Should any of these be missing, the quality of the relationship deteriorates and could eventually break down if the problem is not addressed. This is no different in our friendship with God. We as human beings need to know that we can trust God, that we can talk to Him about anything that‟s on our heart and, of course, that He genuinely cares for and loves us. What I want us to next examine is the need for our perspective and understanding of God to line up with what the Bible says about Him, because how we understand and think about God has a significant influence upon these foundations and in turn, how we pray. As author Derek Prince once said: “As we come to God in prayer, we need to begin with the understanding that He wants us to do so. Most of us probably need to change our negative and unattractive images of God. I know I did. These pictures often stand between God and us and hinder our prayers.”i For some of us reading this, we may find it difficult to believe that God is truly interested in listening to and answering our prayers. We think our problems are too trivial to bother God with as He has so many larger and more pressing needs in this world to deal with. It‟s hard for us to imagine how this almighty, all-powerful God would be remotely interested in what we have to say. Yet despite such thoughts and feelings about how God feels about us praying to Him, the Bible clearly and explicitly says that God is SO interested in us coming before Him in prayer! In fact, so important is this subject of us praying to Him that God the Father instructed Jesus to teach us how to pray (the „Lord‟s Prayer‟ which we will look at later in this chapter) and He gave us various promises of what He will do for us when we do! Here are a few examples: If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer (Matthew 21:22). I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (John 14:12–14). The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:5b–7). These Bible verses are great promises, and provide us with great motivation to pray (and these are just a few of the many wonderful Scriptures on prayer)! The fact is, there are just so many places in the Bible where God Himself exhorts us to pray and which explain what will happen when we do! Let‟s make this clear: God wants you to pray to Him. He desires it because He cares about you. How would you feel if someone you loved and cared for didn‟t talk to you, even about the every day issues of their life? It would no doubt bother you and you would miss their

conversations and company, right? I love how author and pastor John Maxwell describes the importance of prayer and our relationship with God our Father: “Prayer should be the most natural thing in the world, like speaking your mind with a friend you trust…First and foremost, prayer is talking to your Father in heaven and getting to know Him. It‟s the process of developing a relationship. How do you develop and grow in your relationship with God? The same way you do with anyone else. You spend time together.” ii Contrary to what we might be tempted to think about how God views us and our prayers, the Bible says that God cares deeply for us and He is near to us when we call upon Him. We don‟t know how He can manage to be seated high above in the heavenly realms ruling the whole world and yet be close to us, but somehow He is! He is not far away but near through His Spirit who lives in us, and so we are never alone. Not just that, but as the words of Philippians 4 teach us, God invites us to bring all our anxieties and requests to Him in prayer - those ordinary, everyday things we are worried and anxious about - and as we do, the benefits of prayer will be immediately felt. As that passage explains, as soon as we communicate our concerns to our caring Father God, He will give us His peace in our heart and mind to replace the worry we were previously feeling. Prayer then is something God desires all of us to do. It‟s one of the many blessings of having a relationship with God and it‟s also good for us! As 1 Peter 5:7 puts it: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Pretty clear, isn‟t it? God cares about you and about those things that worry you, whatever they are. He cares deeply about those concerns that you are carrying around in your heart, and so great is His loving care that He moves and responds in answer to your prayers, bringing help where needed. Let‟s look at one example in the Bible where we find God‟s genuine concern for His people who were going through a period of suffering and oppression and who cried out to God in prayer to help them: The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:7–10). In this story we learn that God appeared to Moses and clearly explained to him how He had heard the suffering and cries of His people, the Israelites, and was moved to do something to help and change their situation. Moses obeyed the call and God used him to bring His people out of Egypt with great miracles as we have seen before. God used this man Moses as His instrument in answer to the prayers of the Israelites and, as we have seen before, he was the perfect man for the job: knowledgeable of Egyptian culture and language, and someone who had a lifelong burden for his own people enslaved in Egypt. God did not allow His people to continue in their suffering but called Moses to deliver them. There are just so many accounts throughout the Bible that clearly display God‟s heart of concern for the needs of his people and how He is always ready to move in answer to their prayers. Even when God‟s people go astray and may as a result feel forgotten by God, His love and compassion remains: The LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the LORD has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget the baby at her

breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49:13b–16a). In this particular situation, the Israelites had sinned greatly against the Lord and eventually had turned their backs on Him. As a result of their choices, God disciplined them and they ended up feeling far from God, thinking that He had abandoned them. But they were wrong and through the prophet Isaiah, God explained to them that despite everything, He still loved them and felt compassion for them, using the picture of a mother and her baby to illustrate and express the depth of His commitment and love. This love of God is also seen in the following illustration: He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (Isaiah 40:11). All the truths within God‟s Word point emphatically to the fact that God does indeed care deeply for us when we are in distress and invites us before His throne of grace through prayer to ask for the help we need in tough times. God is not grumpy and disinterested as some may be tempted to think! Such an image of God couldn‟t be further from the truth. You can have confidence every day that God will listen to your prayers and answer them.

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Derek Prince, Secrets Of A Prayer Warrior (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen, 2009), 13 John Maxwell: Partners In Prayer (Nashville, TN: Nelson, 1996), 15