What is the Purpose of Prayer?

What is the purpose of prayer?  As I said in an earlier post I am spending the next year trying to really focus on prayer.

I have been trying to read a lot about it, reading through the prayers in the Bible, reading prayers by others and talking to people about prayer (and actually praying, thought I might clarify that).  It seems the more I talk to people the more answers I get, some certain, some not so sure and then some with no clue.  This Sunday I am preaching on the topic of prayer at Westhill and I am really excited about it.  I really want to get more opinions from people on the purpose of prayer, so what do you think?

Sometimes we are left wondering, did God actually get the message?  Is He listening?  God I have been praying the same prayer for months or years, are you there?  God take away the cancer.  God give me a job.  God give me an answer.  God I need hope.  God I can’t hold on.  God are you listening?  And we wait.  But what do we do when it seems like no one responds; When we don’t get the job, when we don’t the outcome we want?  Does it mean we lack faith?  Paul prayed 3 times for the thorn in his flesh to be taken away and it never was.  Even Jesus asked for things in prayer that were not answered with the outcome He requested.   And if, from observing the situation see that nothing changes, is it even worth our time to keep praying?   Many times we end our prayers, with God only if it is your will.  So if He is only going to do His will, why are we praying for ours?  Should we pray for things we want to see happen?  Can praying change God’s mind, like in the story of the persistent widow?

Then there is the flip side, because the people we see on TV, the televangelist and preachers and pastors who will say if you only have enough faith, or give enough, God will answer.  Will he?  If he does not answer the way that person sees fit does that really mean they didn’t have enough faith?  Did Paul not have enough faith?  What about Jesus?  I have heard of people giving their life savings because they have cancer and a pastor told them to give everything and they will be healed.  What do you do with that?  Jjust because bad theology comes from a leader, preacher, teacher or pastor, would God not still honor their faith?  So why pray?  What do you see as the purpose of prayer?

I know just a few “light” thoughts but I would love to hear for some more people on this…  You can comment below or email me.

By the way I will be throwing my two cents in later.

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2 responses to “What is the Purpose of Prayer?

  • April Pedford-Arellano

    Gary, I think this is a great topic. Though I’m not sure I feel like there are times when we are persistent that God just might change his mind. I remember when we were at Austin St. and they told Keith Robinson our minister that he had weeks to live and people everywhere prayed everyday for a long time and he made it 11 years! But for other situations even such as my own, I have prayed for 2 years and waited patiently for an answer. I don’t think he’s not listening because if I really look I can see things happening, maybe things I needed to learn, a closer walk with him I wouldn’t have focused on. I think sometimes if we focus there is beauty in the waiting. It’s easy to see him when we get what we ask for but the question I think is do we look for him while we have to wait. And then we have to remember the bigger picture, maybe if I had gotten that job I would miss out on a bigger blessing. I know when I stopped working because I was sick it was the worst day of my life but if I had been working a dear friend of mine would have lost his life, so the suffering is worth it. Just my thoughts. 🙂

    • garyalbritton

      I don’t know either if we can change God’s mind. I guess in asking that question I am thinking of Abraham asking God to not destroy Sodom and spare Lot. Did Abraham really change God’s mind? Or the story of the Persistent Widow,
      Luke 18:1

      1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

      Ultimately though, God does not exist to answer our prayers, we exist to reflect His glory. I think prayer refocuses of on who He is.

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