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If God knows all things and God is going to do what He’s going to do, why should we take the time to pray? To change His mind? To get on His good side? To try to convince Him of what we want?
I’ve learned by now that prayer doesn’t change God. But it certainly changes us. Here are just five of the many ways that prayer benefits our spiritual lives:
1. Prayer makes us obedient.
Scripture commands us to pray. First Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray continually.” We pray to thank God for His blessings, to praise Him for who He is, to commune with Him as we would with any loved one, and to seek to be a part of His purposes here on earth.
2. Prayer brings peace to our hearts and minds.
SEE ALSO: Why We Pray and Never Give Up
We tend to be anxious people. Stressed-out people. People who worry and fear. But Scripture tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV). Just by praying, you are releasing your concerns to God and allowing Him to pour peace into your life.
3. Prayer humbles us.
When we can do things on our own, it convinces us we are strong, capable, and independent. But Scripture says we are all broken (Romans 3:23) and in need of God. When I pray, it reminds me that He is God and I am not. It puts me in proper perspective and keeps me relying on God for what I cannot accomplish on my own. Let prayer humble you.
4. Prayer grows our faith.
Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” That statement of Jesus’ tells us a little faith can go a long way. That also makes me think that my faith is quite small at times because I fail to pray for bigger, bolder, more God-sized requests. I believe we are all given the same measure of faith, but faith is like a muscle. The more we exercise it, the more it grows. Sometimes we don’t really exercise our faith that all things are possible until we start praying to God for the impossible. When we see that He really is the God of the impossible it grows our faith.
5. Prayer grows our relationship with God.
Prayer is communing with God and telling Him all that is on our hearts and minds. Yes, He knows it anyway. But communication is what grows a relationship. If we only pray for what we want, we are viewing God as a type of Santa Claus to whom we give our gift list. God wants you to “pour out your hearts to Him” (Psalm 62:8) because that kind of intimate conversation makes a relationship more intimate. The more you trust Him the more you will tell Him. And the more time you spend with Him in prayer and in His Word, the more you will get to know Him and trust Him. Prayer should be the most intimate conversation we have with another. And God gives us the opportunity to share that intimacy with Him through prayer.
6. Prayer allows a conduit for God’s work and glory.
God can do anything, with or without us. But for some reason He chooses to work through human hearts and hands that are surrendered to Him, so He can receive the glory for how He answers our prayers. God also wants us to interact with Him on issues that are close to His heart.
Remember when God told Abraham He was going to destroy Sodom because of the wickedness in that city (Genesis 18:20-21)? God knew Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lived in that city. God wanted Abraham to discuss the situation with Him. Abraham could’ve said “Wow. Okay, God. I wish you wouldn’t because my nephew lives there, but I guess You’re going to do what You’re going to do.” If that was Abraham’s response, we wouldn’t have that wonderful story of Abraham questioning and practically negotiating with God over how many righteous people God might find in Sodom before reconsidering His judgment. God still destroyed Sodom, (because He found less than 10 righteous people in that city), but not before making arrangements to get Lot and his family out of the city. Lot’s rescue wasn’t even a particular request of Abraham’s. But God saw Abraham’s heart and motives in his questioning (Genesis 18:20-19:29).
God knows your heart, too. And He wants you to interact with Him on what He wants to do. He wants you to let Him speak to you about what He wants you to do. And He wants you to stand amazed in the aftermath of what He does as a result of your prayers.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker who helps women and couples find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books including, When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When Couples Walk Together, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When God Sees Your Tears, and God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, a devotional for those who long to hear God’s voice. Her newest book, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You, releases in April. For more on her speaking ministry, or free articles to strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, see her website www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
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Publication date: January 31, 2017