Jean’s Gospel: Why Pray?
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”(1 Cor 1:9)”
When our heavenly Father adopts us into His family, He adopts us into fellowship with other Christians and into fellowship with the Triune God: with the Father (1 John 1:3); the Son (1 Cor 1:9) and the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:14). The Greek word for “fellowship” – Koinonia – also means “communion.”
The Christian life is a communion of Christians (Acts 2:42) assembled in local churches, but it also is an individual communion with God. God enjoins and enables us to pray to keep us in communion with Him, by which He preserves us in faith towards Him and in love towards one another.
Our communion with God is not limited to prayer. We commune with Him when we hear or read His Word, as in the Parable of the Sower: “As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15). We also commune with Jesus in the Sacrament of Holy Communion: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation [Greek: Koinonia] in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation [Greek: Koinonia] in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16) Thus, our fellowship with the Triune God is a multi-faceted communion, involving His Word, Sacrament and prayer.
“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.” (Matt 7:7-8)
To preserve our fellowship with Him, God enjoins us to pray. He desires that we look to Him in thanksgiving and supplication for our entire corporal and spiritual, temporal and eternal, wellbeing. His command that we pray is expressed throughout Scripture, for example: “call upon me in the day of trouble” (Ps 50:15); “ask…seek…knock” (Matt 7:7); “be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12); “let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6); “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17).
To His command, God has added His promises to bless those who ask Him. For example: “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:8-11)
When petitioning God for spiritual blessings that are necessary for salvation, Christians should always pray unconditionally. God has already promised: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9); “how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13); “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). We should have complete confidence that the Father desires to give us these spiritual blessings because Jesus won all of them for us by shedding his precious blood to redeem us from our sin.
When petitioning God for corporal or temporal blessings, Christians should pray conditionally, following the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: “not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). We have God’s promise to hear our prayers which conform to His will: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14). Since God’s providential care for us and the world surpasses our understanding, our requests for corporal and temporal blessings should be made in humble submission to His Will. However, even in conditional prayers, we should have complete confidence that “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
Because The Lord’s Prayer contains Jesus’ own words, we know even before praying His prayer that all of the petitions prayed in faith will be heard and answered by the Father. Because The Lord’s Prayer is the Word of God, each time we pray His prayer, we are joining in a chorus to the Father with Jesus and other Christians worldwide who are praying His prayer.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)
Christians also pray because faith in Christ puts Christians in the cross hairs of the world, Satan and the flesh, which wield the weapons of accusation and temptation to destroy Christian faith. Jesus describes some of these temptations as thorns which choke faith with “the cares and riches and pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14). We see this vividly in the life of King David when he was tempted by the beauty of another man’s wife. David’s lust for Bathsheba led him first to despise the God’s Word, and then to commit adultery and murder (2 Sam 12:9). If not for God’s mercy – sending His Word to David through the prophet, Nathan – David might have died in his sin.
God uses our temptations to drive us to Him in prayer for help and deliverance: “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Ps 50:15) “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” (Ps 118:5) “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” (Ps 138:3) Prayer is our weapon against the accusations and temptations of the world, Satan and our flesh.
In the Apostle Paul’s discourse on spiritual warfare, he provides two activities which accompany the final weapons: “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Eph 6:17‑18) Here Paul teaches that Christians wield the Word of God against the accusations and temptations of the evil one by prayer. By using the Word of God in prayer, Jesus fights for us to vanquish the enemy by the power of his Word. By prayer we take up the armor of God enabling us “to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph 6:11)
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
And show him my salvation.” (Ps 91:14-16) Amen.
Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.