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Why I Pray: Part 1

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission..., he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…”

Hebrews 5:7-9 NIV¹

I cannot imagine a belief in a god unaccompanied by prayer. Only atheists should have no desire to pray. Pantheists can and do pray out of impulse with response to circumstances. For many, prayer takes on different forms and postures or even silence. In The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis², Samuel Taylor Coleridge remarks that “he never prays with moving lips or bended knees.” Religion has defined and formed rituals about prayer as asking [begging] or God waiting to serve us. Accordingly, some find it more desirable to involve their understanding and intellect, others turn to some sort of body posture, like yoga and others to some form of transcendental meditation. For most prayer is practically rooted in the special providence by God, whose favor may be won, whose anger may be appeased or whose purpose may be changed, but without a strong sense of a personal relationship with Him. Jesus had an intimate relationship with God before calming storms or cleansing lepers. Jesus knew the heart and plan of God. 

If God is the creator and upholder of the universe and every wave and particle dances to the melody of His will and If God truly knows the end from the beginning, then there is no limit to His power. This makes prayer at its core more about fellowshipping with God and learning His heart than asking him to perform for our gratitude. Although God gives us what we need for the journey we embark on, what He wants is us becoming more like Him. In the gospel according to John 17:20-23, “Jesus said to the Father, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Jesus likens prayer to a marriage relationship. “Until prayer becomes as natural to us as breathing then we won’t ever discover God’s heart.” We’ll always worry a lot about the physical and metaphysical difficulties of life. 

In such unprecedented times of coronavirus or COVID-19, prayer isn’t asking God to stretch out a finger and tinker with the universe in such a way that our desires are met. Prayer is majorly proactive, not reactive. Prayer isn’t fundamentally to keep the trouble away, but rather to grow our confidence and trust in God. The gospels according to Matthew and Mark identify Getsemane as a place of prayer and yet the most challenging of times in the life of Jesus. Accompanied by his disciples at Gethsemane, Jesus asked them to stay awake because He was overwhelmed with sadness and anguish in his heart. At a distance, he prayed “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it.” Then, a little while later, he said, “If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, Your will be done!” God desires that we’re firmly persuaded and trusting, even in death. I can’t go on without prayer or life would have no meaning.

1 The Bible. New International Version.

2 Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters. HarperOne, 1942.

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