Why Should We Pray?



Dr. John Hoole – February 26, 2017




This week I sat briefly with a dollar bill in my hand.  I wondered where it had been.  What other hands have grasped it or given it?  What human toil had earned it – then spent it – only to have someone else earn it?  What small human needs had it fulfilled in its time?  Was it ever once stolen, or lost, or found?  Had anyone ever thought about it before?


Have you spent much time thinking about money?  Sure you have.  People plan their lives around money.  Decisions are made with money in mind.


                   …Where will we live

                   …Where will we go

                   …What can we have


Songs have been written about money.


                   “You’ve got the money, honey.  I’ve got the time” – Willie Nelson


                  “King of the Road”       -- Roger Miller

 “Trailer for sale or rent, rooms to let fifty cents,

No phone, no pool, no pets; I ain't got no cigarettes

Ah, but, two hours of pushin' broom, buys an eight by twelve four-bit room 

I'm a man of means by no means King of the road."

                   “We’re In the Money”   Harry Warren


                   “Pennies From Heaven”     Sung by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin


We let money promise us security, happiness and power.  We don’t like for it to get too far from us.  Men have stolen, killed, lied, cheated and deceived for money.  They guard it with their life.  Some have even left their spouses, or have made their children sacrifice, and they have even robbed God for it.


There was a man who wanted to take some of his money with him when he died.  He did not trust undertakers to see to it that he had some buried with him.  So he gave each of his sons $100,000 in cash and told them to sneak it into the casket just before they buried him.  At the cemetery, the first son went up and snuck a package into the casket.  The second son did the same, followed by the third son.  When they arrived back at home, the first son was moping around and finally called the other two into another room.  He said, “I have to confess, I only left half the money.”  The 2nd son said, “I guess I should tell you, I only left a fourth of the money.”  The 3rd sons said, “Don’t worry, I took out what you left and left a check for the full amount.”


Money has been buried in back yards – in mattresses – in attics – behind walls.  There are few things we are closer to than our money.


A barber in a small town was busy cutting hair one day when the local cop walked in to get a haircut. And the barber was feeling a bit generous that day, so he said to the cop, "Since you do such a good job protecting us, and watching over us... today’s haircut is free."  The cop said he appreciated that, and the next day when the barber showed up at his shop, there were a dozen donuts waiting for him.

In walks a local florist.  The barber tells him how much he appreciates all the work that he has done around town, planting bushes and flowers and making the town look real nice, so he gives him a free haircut.  The next day, the barber shows up at his shop and there are a dozen flowers waiting for him.  

In walks the local preacher.  The barber tells him how he is feeling generous that day, and how much he appreciates all his hard work with the children and taking care of the needs of the people, so the preacher gets a free haircut.  The next day the barber shows up at his shop, and there are a dozen preachers waiting there for him.


We have allowed ourselves into believing our security, happiness and power is tied to how much money we have accumulated.  But, for all the trust we put into money, we actually get no assurance whatsoever.  Money cannot guarantee us one single thing.


There is One, though, that we can put our trust in, and can have total confidence and assurance of the return on our investment.  He is who we should get intimate with.  We should invest our time with Him.


Hebrews 10:22 NIV


22     Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.


We have total assurance of our present and our future because of what God has done for us.  And He is inviting us to draw near and have an intimate relationship with Him.  How do we nurture such a relationship?  By spending time in prayer – having a dialog with Him.


Matthew 6:8  tells us:


…your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 


This has led some people to ask, then why pray, if God already knows before we ask -- can’t He just give us what we need?  When I said my prayers this past week, “Dear Lord, Larry Hardy needs a fresh touch from you - and LeeAnn Holman needs a permanent job, the Lord doesn’t ever say, “Oh, I didn’t know that.  Thanks for filling me in, John.”  God is God, and He knows what you have need of before you ask.


So, today, the question we are going to answer is: “Why do we need to pray?”


Actually, the question “If God already knows what I need before I ask, then why do I need to pray?” is a fairly easy questions to answer.  My quick answer would be:  The question only addresses things we would ask God for.  “We need to pray because not all prayer involves asking God for things.”  But, even beyond that answer, we are still instructed to pray when we need something.


Others have expanded the question to:


“If God already knows the future and is already in complete control of everything, what’s the point of prayer?  If we cannot change God’s mind, why should we pray?”


This question will take some additional searching in the Scriptures, but the Bible does give us ample reasons for us to pray.






No, it is not!!  In many specifics, God waits to be asked.


Of course, there are many general blessings of God which come upon mankind without respect to the one who received them.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.  The sun shines upon a man’s field whether he is good or wicked.  And even beyond this, we receive many blessings from our beneficent heavenly Father simply because we are His children and He delights in us.


Psalm  68:19  (NKJV)


19     Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation.


Why we should pray


1.      Because God commands us to pray


Luke 18:1 NIV


1   Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.


Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking.  The only way to trouble God is not to come at all.  He has told us to come to Him and pray.


Philippians 4:6 NKJV


6       Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;


A child of God is to pray for anything and about everything.  There is nothing that concerns you that does not also concern our Lord.


The fact that God has requested us to pray is an amazing thing.  The God who created time and space invites us to pour out our hearts before Him.  He invites us to share our burdens and longings with Him.


        1 Peter 5:7 says:


              “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”


Psalms 62:8 NIV


8       Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.


So, the first reason we should pray is because God tells us to do so.


2.      Lack of prayer is sin.


1 Samuel 12:23 NIV


23     As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.


Samuel was the priestly leader in Israel at this time.  He said it would be sin against God for him to cease to pray for Israel.


John Bunyan


         “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.”


Matthew 26:41 NIV


41     Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.


This should teach us that when we are struggling with temptation, we should take it to the Lord in prayer.


3.      We need to Pray because there is a devil


Ephesians 6:12-18 NIV


12     For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

13     Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.


18     And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.


                   Prayer is one God-appointed way to resist the devil and his schemes.


4.      We should pray because Christ, our example, prayed often


Mark 1:35 NIV


35     Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.


The Bible records that Jesus had a continuous fellowship with His Father.  If Jesus felt the need to pray, we also should be aware of that need for ourselves.


Haddon Robinson


“In the life of Jesus, prayer was the work and ministry was the prize.  For me, prayer often serves as preparation for the battle.     But, for Christ, prayer was the battle itself.  After having prayed, He went about His ministry as an honor student might go to receive a reward, or as a marathon runner, having run the race, might accept the gold medal.”


5.      We should pray because it quiets our fears and calms our nerves.


Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV


6       Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7       and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


We may come to prayer fearful and anxious.  But when we give our worries to the Lord, and leave them with Him, we come away calmed and assured.




         Consider the following verses and several comments.


1.      James 4:2 states,   “…You have not, because you ask not.”


         This verse seem to be quite straightforward in indicating that certain things which the church went without could have been obtained, if only they had asked God for them.


2.      James 1:5  (NKJV)adds,


5       If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.


This verse certainly points to the fact that just because a Christian needs wisdom, it is not automatically imparted to him or her.  Rather, if wisdom is needed by any Christian to deal with a particular situation, they are admonished to ask God for it.


3.      Matthew 6:11 (part of The Sermon on the Mount)


         “Gives us this day our daily bread.”


Jesus told us to ask for the needs of our everyday living.  This is another reason for, and benefit of prayer.  Even when it is stated to be God’s will, we are being told here that it will not automatically  be imposed upon humanity.  Rather, we are to ask for it to happen.


4.      John 16:24


         Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name:  ASK and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.


In order to receive, we could surmise, one must ask first.  And in the receiving, your joy will be increased.  Not only some joy, but joy to the full.  Joy is a very definite benefit of prayer.  But is all starts with asking.


5.      Matthew 7:11


How much more, then, shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ASK Him.


Even if we are Christians, we are to ASK for the things God promises.  This section of God’s Word looks at this issue from the positive side.  Back in verse 7, it says “Ask and it will be given to you.”  James 4:2 contains the negative look at it, when it states, “You have not because you ask not.”  But the teaching of both texts are identical.  God delights to give good gifts to his children.  Therefore, if we do not receive them, the fault does not lie with God.  It lies in our failure to ask things of Him.


6.      Luke 11:9  (Matthew 7:7-8)      ……ask and it shall be given you.


         Then in verse 10 we read, “For everyone that asks receives.  In other word, the one who receives is the one who asks.


Then, in verse 13


                   …how much more shall the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ASK Him?


         The blessing and help of the Holy Spirit is ours for the asking.


Prayer, then, is not overcoming God’s reluctance.  Rather, it is responding to God’s provision.  It is not forcing our way into God’s presence like a gate-crasher at a party.  Instead, God has already grated us an audience.  Hebrews 4:16 says to “come boldly before the throne of grace.”  The appointment has already been made, but it is up to us to keep it.  God has committed Himself to be available to every person who prays to Him.


So prayer is surrender to the will of God, not trying to pull God to our will.  W hen God’s people pray, God’s reputation is at state.  The way He takes care of His children is a witness to all the world that He can be trusted.  If we do not receive what we pray for, it is not because God grudgingly refuses to give it to us but because He has some far better thing for us.


7.      James 5:16 (NKJV)


             ……the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man avails much.


         This verse indicates that much is given only as a result of effectual and fervent prayer.


Here is a list of specific things we are instructed to pray for, directly from Scripture.


1.      Pray for the harvest…..that God would send laborers.   Matthew 9:38;  Luke 10:2


2.      Pray for national and local leaders of government.  1 Timothy 2:1


3.      Pray  that God will open doors for ministry of the Word of God.   Colossians 4:3


4.      Pray for those who have mistreated you.     Luke 6:28


5.      Pray that you enter not into temptation.    Luke 22:40


6.      Pray that you may do no evil.      1 Corinthians 13:7


7.      Pray that your love may abound toward all people.  Phil. 1:9


8.      Pray that your whole spirit, mind and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord.  1 Thess. 5:23


9.      Pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit.     Luke 11:13


10.    Pray that you may be able to interpret what you speak in tongues.  1 Corinthians 14:13


11.    Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  Psalm 122:6


12.    Pray that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.  1 Timothy 2:2


13.    Pray to have the desires that God wants you to have.  Psalm 37:4;  Mark 11:24


14.    Pray for those who have rule over you - pastors, leaders.  Hebrews 13:7


15.    Pray for wisdom    James 1:5


16.    Pray for God’s strength  Ephesians 3:16


In John 15:5, Jesus says “without me you can do nothing.”  If Jesus was accurate in saying, “without me you can do nothing,” then productive prayer must be done with Him - not without Him.


When we pray, we need to always remember…


                   1.      The love of God that wants the best for us.


                   2.      The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.


                   3.      The power of God that can accomplish it.


By now we should be aware that many of the benefits of God are not realized by us because we do not ask Him for them.  In the economy of God, the richest benefits of heaven are reserved for those who want them, and want them enough to ask for them.  Don’t ever be ashamed to go to God for the small or the great.


I believe it is also important for me to add that we need to make our requests known to God, not because it is necessary to inform Him of our needs, but because we need to establish “a relationship of dependency” with God.  And asking indicates one’s dependence on Him.


We need to tell God what we need, not because God is ignorant of our needs but because we need to be aware that we are dependent upon Jesus for everything.


Regardless of who we are, we all need to lean on something.  Frankly, I’m relieved more than words can express, that Jesus says,…..Come, lean on me.”  Leaning on the everlasting arm is what prayer is all about.  It’s taking time to lean on Jesus.  It’s acknowledging that without God we can do nothing.