There have been several occasions in my life when I have been asked this question. Out of curiosity, I did a short search to see how others have answered it, and here are some of the answers that have been offered:
1. To come to know God and build a relationship with Him
2. To ask for strength, healing, or to make requests or petitions
3. To come to understand God’s will for us
4. Because we are commanded to do so
In addition to these, I wish to offer my own thoughts on why we need to pray.
As Christians, We Should Pray
First, when we call ourselves Christians this means we are taking upon us the name of Christ and trying to be like Him. When Christ was on the earth He set an example by praying. He prayed for guidance, He prayed for his disciples and followers, He prayed in gratitude and praise, He prayed when he instituted the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and when He was on the Cross. So, if we are calling ourselves Christian, and becoming like Christ, then we should pray, as He did. (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, John 17:11, John 17:20-21, Luke 10:21, Mark 14:22, Matthew 26:39, Luke 22:44, Matthew 27:46).
Prayer is indeed our opportunity to come to know God and build a relationship with Him. However, it is critical to understand that in order to build that relationship we must understand that prayer requires two-way communication. Building a relationship with God is similar to building relationships with people around us, conversations need to go both ways; we talk, and then we listen. It is the same with God. Prayer allows us the opportunity to tell God how we are feeling, ask for guidance, assistance and answers to questions, but it also is our opportunity to learn from Him what His will is for us.
Another reason for prayer is for repentance (for example, see God Helped Me Conquer Alcoholism). Christ atoned for our sins so we can be worthy and pure to enter God’s presence. Only He can grant us forgiveness for the sins we have committed. Prayer is a means for confessing our sins. The Lord has promised us that “I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts.”
Prayer Helps Us Find Purpose
We can also pray and ask God to help us find purpose in our lives. He has a plan for us and desires to lead and guide us. I know from experience that when I have humbled myself in prayer and offered myself as a tool for Him, God has guided me in making life plans and decisions. He has even given me purpose that gets me through performing the mundane and seemingly purposeless tasks of daily life.
Finally, I think one of the most important purposes of prayer is to bring our will into correspondence with God’s will. I think many people pray and then become upset when their prayers are not answered. Even though God loves us, it is not always His will nor is it possible for Him to give us the things we desire. I have a friend who prayed for a unicorn every day when she was a child, but not surprisingly, she never got one. Was this because she lacked faith? I don’t really think so. If you aren’t receiving answers to your prayers, or your prayers aren’t answered in the way you want, maybe you need to evaluate what you are praying for and instead ask God what you should be praying for.
The bible dictionary notes that the purpose of prayer is “to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means of obtaining the highest of all blessings.”
When praying, I think it is important to first rely on the spirit to know what to pray for, and then to believe that He will answer our prayers, through faith (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Why do you think we need to pray?
(For more about prayer, I highly recommend this speech: “Using the supernal gift of prayer”), as well as the following articles:
Love is the Best Discipline – A mother finds the answer to a child’s tantrums through prayer
Letting the Lord Guide Your Career – A man finds the right way to make a living through guidance from God
Does God Answer Prayers? – A family lost at night in a lake
Answers to Prayers – A baby born prematurely
How Can I Overcome Sadness? – A high school boy struggling
God Saved My Father’s Life – Recovery from cancer
Does Prayer Make Life Easier? – A teen’s loneliness
|Seeking God in Prayer|| Answers to Our Prayers||Do We Listen When God Answers Our Prayers?||How Can I Overcome the Effects of Sexual Abuse?