In my last post, I focused on the negative. I shared ten reasons why I think we (Christians) don’t pray, or don’t pray more than we do.
While it’s good to recognize what keeps us from praying, I also wanted to explore positive reasons that draw us to God in prayer. Here are ten things that encourage and move me to pray.
God Loves Us
Everything starts with God’s love.
As I write this, Casting Crown’s song Loved Moved First is playing on my phone. The chorus says:
You didn't wait for me to find my way to You I couldn’t cross that distance even if I wanted to You came running after me When anybody else would’ve turned and left me at my worst Loved moved first
God demonstrates his love for us by taking the initiative to save us through Jesus Christ. He moved first. Apart from the Spirit first changing your heart, your free will will never take you to Christ. In love, God acted first through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ to intervene in my life and save me from my sin. Knowing his love moves me to pray.
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us.” (Titus 3:3-4)
God Invites Us
Because he loves us, he invites – and even commands – us to connect with him in prayer. He’s a good Father who gives good things. He wants us to pray because it’s what’s best for us. He wants us to have a deepening relationship with him and prayer is essential to do that.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
God Hears Us
If he invites us to pray, we can know he hears our prayers. While we may wrestle with discerning God‘s voice in our lives, he never struggles hearing us. If you’ve believed the gospel, then you’re a child of God. And God hears his children.
“But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.” (Psalm 55:16-17)
God Cares for Us
The Creator of the entire universe, the Holder of trillions of stars, the One who perfectly balances solar systems, he cares for you! He has this kind of power, yet he cares for you. Let this encourage you to “cast all your anxieties on him” through prayer.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
God Knows Us
Jesus tells us the Father knows what we need before we even ask him, so we don’t have to overcomplicate prayer with fancy or eloquent or endless words. This helps me remember that the power of prayer doesn’t come from my words, but it instead comes from our all-knowing sovereign God. The fact that Jesus simplifies prayer for us in this way encourages me to pray. God already knows what I need, so I can simply ask and ask simply.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:7-8
God Helps Us
Through the ministry of ATLAS, I’ve had the opportunity to pray with many people at dark times in their lives. I’ve prayed with people who were homeless, facing jail, fighting addiction, depressed, struggling in their marriage, lost their job, had a loved one pass away, and many other heartbreaking and hard situations. In these situations when I’ve offered to pray with people, there’s often been moments where I think to myself, “I have no idea how to pray for this person and what they’re facing.” I’ve also had hard times in my own life where I simply didn’t know how to pray. Knowing that the Spirit helps us to pray in our weakness encourages me to pray even when I can’t find the words.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
God is Sovereign
God’s is sovereign. This means he possesses supreme and ultimate power over everything. In his sovereignty, God doesn’t just predict what will happen. He declares what will happen. While some might say believing God is sovereign will lead us to pray less, I see the exact opposite. Theologian Michael Horton says, “People ask me, ‘Why pray if God is sovereign?’ I respond, ‘Why pray if he isn’t?’” In other words, why bother worshipping, praising, following, or praying to God if he isn’t in complete control of all things? His sovereignty moves me to pray because he commands us to pray. If God, knowing everything and having complete power, tells me to pray, then I want to pray. As R.C. Sproul writes in Does Prayer Change Things, “The very reason we pray is because of God’s sovereignty, because we believe that God has it within His power to order things according to His purpose.”
“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
God Promises Peace
Through prayer, God promises us peace to guard our hearts and minds through any difficulty. With all that life throws at us, a promise of God’s peace is a great encouragement to pray.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
God Doesn’t Change
Our world today seems to change at the speed of light. While change in itself isn’t always bad, it can lead to stress and despair when we realize what little control we have. All of the change around me makes me yearn for the One who never changes. I find comfort praying to the One who is in control of all things.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
God Works Through Us
It amazes me that God works through broken but redeemed people to bring his eternal purposes to pass in other people’s lives, even though he could so easily do it himself without us. I want to be a part of what God is doing in the world. I want to share the love he has shown me with others. God makes abundantly clear through his Word, however, that the only way I can be used by him in a positive way in other people’s lives is through my own deepening and growing relationship with him. When I get prideful and try to do God’s work on my own, I become ineffective and unfruitful. Knowing God wants to work through me drives me to want to stay rooted in him through prayer.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Which one of these encourages you most to pray? Or what else encourages you to pray?