“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” ~ Saint Augustine
If God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere, then why should we pray? I mean, come on, what difference does will it make. How will prayer change the outcome for all these people with COVID? God will heal them, or He won’t. How is it possible that a loving God will only intervene if we pray?
I don’t know about you, but I have wrestled with questions like these my entire life, and I could come up with dozens of more questions to add to an already long list of questions about God.
The way I understand it today is that it all comes down to faith. We can define faith in different ways, but here are a few to consider:
- 11 “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.” (Hebrews 11:1 – CEB)
- The Hebrew word for faith is אמונה (emunah – Strong’s #530) and is an action-oriented word meaning “support.” This definition is important because the Western concept of faith places the action on the one you have faith in, such as “faith in God.” But, the Hebrew wordאמונה places the action on the one who “supports God.”¹
Therefore, the reason we pray is that God told us to pray and to pray boldly. God created humans for relationships and to enjoy God and all of creation. Since we are in a relationship with God, it suggests we are in partnership with God. If this is true, which all we know about God would suggest, this means that we are His agents, and God is the Director. We are His employees, and God is the employer. Since this is true, it means we have work to do, so let’s get busy.
What is our job description as partners in this spiritual covenant? Our duties are pretty straightforward:
- 5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) The word might or strength in Hebrew means “much-ness.” Love God with all your “much-ness”! It means your substance, your possessions—all that God has given you. (Luke 18:18-25)
- 37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Evidence for our love for God, others, and all creation is that we pray and pray continually. Think of it this way; if I love you, I have your best interest at heart, then I will do whatever possible to help you in a time of need. God doesn’t need our help, but God won’t act unless we act on many occasions. It’s a mystery, I know, but that’s how it goes in the kingdom of God. A partnership requires effort from both parties. Scripture gives us clearcut instructions for whom to pray for and how to pray; here are just a few:
- Pray for each other: James 5:16, Romans 1:9
- Pray for the pastors, ministers, missionaries, and other spiritual leaders: Ephesians 6:19-20, Colossians 4:3
- Pray for the sick (COVID-19), (Cancer), etc.: James 5:14-15
- Pray for our political leaders (whether you align with them or not): 1 Timothy 2:1-3
- Pray for our enemies (treat them as a sick friend): Matthew 5:44, Acts 7:59,60
- Pray for everybody (including all of creation): 1 Timothy 2:1
- Pray for ourselves (all long as others will be blessed): James 1:5, Genesis 24:12, Matthew 14:30, Luke 23:42
We are reminded in scripture that many of our prayers never materialize because we don’t PRAY, and we don’t ASK, or when we do ask, we do so with selfish and wicked motives:
- 2 “You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous of something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask. 3 You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings.” (James 4:2-3)
Jesus reminds us that if we ask in His name, and it’s the will of God, it will materialize, but on God’s time and terms, not ours.
- 11 “Trust me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on account of the works themselves. 12 I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask for in my name so that the Father can be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:11-13)
Many things never materialize because we lack faith. We give lip service that we believe, but deep down, our faith is weak at best. Be honest with yourself; how often do you pray? What do you pray for when you do pray? Do you struggle with prayer? Listen to what Jesus has to say to validate what I am suggesting:
- 20 “Because you have little faith,” he said. “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.” (Matthew 17:14-20)
- 26 “He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?” Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm.” (Matthew 8:23-27)
I could go on and on with many more examples, but I will end it here. The evidence is overwhelming that we are to be active participants in our partnership with God. We are to pray, pray BOLDLY, and pray continually! (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
For a great read and study to help jump-start your prayer life, enhance your faith, and help you grow spiritually, give Mark Batterson’s book “Circle Maker” a try, you’ll be glad you did.
My Creator, thank you for granting me the privilege to be in partnership with you. Would you please help me to take our partnership seriously and start carrying my weight in our relationship? It’s a mystery as to why You resist acting at times without our aid, but I never want anything to fail to materialize because I have failed to ask, especially because of lack of faith. Today I pray boldly for the following people, places, and things: ____________________________________________, so that that they will be comforted, healed, rescued, and blessed. In Your Spirit and Name, I pray these things. May Your will not mine always materialize, now and forever. Amen.