This isn’t just a blog post written for views or ranking high in Google. I’m writing this blog post for me… and then, hopefully, for you. The title, “What’s the point of prayer?” is something I’ve found myself asking more than ever this past week. As I’ve immersed myself in a constant state of prayer for specific situations in my life, I’ve begun to wonder why I even waste my breath, thoughts, and time. God is just going to do whatever He wants, anyway. Right?
Well, that’s what the Bible says. Psalm 135:6 states, “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” Pretty much, whatever God wants to happen, happens. So, what does it matter if I want something different? Why pray for something specific when God is going to do what He wants, regardless? What’s the point of prayer?
Why Pray When Prayers Don’t Get Answered?
When my mom died, it was one of the first times I really understood that just because God can do something doesn’t mean He will. And that very thought has bombarded my mind so much this week. I pray. I trust God hears my prayers. I trust that what I ask for, I will receive. BUT I also know from personal experience that God doesn’t always give us what we ask for. I wanted my mom to live. She’s dead. So, what was the point of praying for her healing if God already knew she wasn’t going to live?
What if Someone is Praying for the Opposite Thing?
Another very repetitive thought I have is, what if someone is praying for the opposite of what I’m praying for? God can’t answer both prayers. For example, if I’m praying for a stock to go up and someone else out there is praying for it to go down, and we both have faith that God can bless our investment, what’s going to happen? One person is going to get disappointed. So, what’s the point of praying? It seems that if God’s going to do what He wants regardless, and most prayers don’t get answered (at least that’s how it feels in my life), why do it? Why should I keep praying?
I share these thoughts with you because I can only imagine that at least one person is reading this who feels the same way. So, as I journey through my understanding of prayer, I hope it helps you realize you aren’t alone in your questioning, and there are answers to be found.
What’s the Point of Prayer?
As soon as I began to ask these questions, God began to answer. Unfortunately, the answers don’t mean God now answers all of my prayers. So, with the revelations I have, it’s up to me to decide if it’s worth it to continue praying.
Prayer Strengthens Your Relationship with God
Prayer isn’t about getting what you want. It’s not a request and grant type of transaction. Prayer is a part of a much bigger (much more important) aspect of life: your relationship with God. Communication is key to a successful relationship, and your relationship with God is no different. Prayer is a conversation. It takes talking and listening. And the listening part is arguably the most important. Because when you listen to God, you learn His will, and when you know His will, you can pray in His will. And when you pray in His will, He answers your prayers.
In John 15:7, Jesus says, “‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.’” For God to answer our prayers, we need to be in a deep relationship with Him. That requires prayer, particularly the listening side.
Communication is key to a successful relationship, and your relationship with God is no different.
The Bible Tells Us to Pray
“Pray continually.” That’s all 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says. Other translations say, “pray without ceasing,” “pray constantly,” and “never stop praying.” I mean, that’s pretty straightforward if you ask me. We pray because the Bible tells us to. But I’m starting to understand why it tells us to. It’s not so we get everything we want and live happily ever after. It’s because prayer is our lifeline to God, and we continually need God if we’re going to make it through this life.
Praying Relieves Anxiety, Worry, and Fear
There are real benefits to praying, even if our prayers go unanswered. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we share our anxieties, worries, and fears with God, he takes the weight of those things off our shoulders and gives us peace in return.
So, What’s the Point of Prayer?
The encouraging thing in all of this is that God does answer prayers. (There are plenty of scriptures about that, too.) But the real point of prayer is strengthening your relationship with God. That way, you know what to pray for and can experience the hope and peace of doing so.
Does all of this information make me feel 100% better about my prayer life? In all honesty, no. I have prayers that I am currently begging God to answer. However, it does help me see that my approach to prayer may be stopping me from experiencing the good things that come when the focus is the relationship rather than reward.
I know this blog post isn’t as polished as some of my other ones, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of prayer. Have you ever experienced the feelings I’m having? What revelations about prayer have you received?
7 comments on “What’s the Point of Prayer When God Does Whatever He Wants?”
I know that God hears all of our prayers and I know that he sees the biggest picture and by faith I ask him all the things that I need all the things that others need healing and health for my family but I also know that God knows what’s best for them and for me and when the answers don’t come especially for healing for people my own family members I asked for strength and courage to make it through it and he always gives me that. I think it comes in trusting that he does know what’s best for them and for us and it’s all for his glory and like he says one day we will understand all of the mysteries… faith, trust, and tears. During many trials I have laughed and been so grateful to see God’s hand on the situations even during great heartfelt pain.
I know God is using your honest heart to open doors for you and others to know it’s good to be so open to our Holy Father that loves us without measure and knows our frailties and has great compassion and kindness for us. He is so good and so loving… I’m so grateful.
I’m keeping you in my prayers, Charlie. Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts. God is always with us, even when prayers aren’t answered. It doesn’t always make sense. But, then again, we aren’t supposed to understand everything. He is still good and loving!!
I’m going through the same thing wondering what is the point of praying if God is going to do whatever He wants after going through a never ending storm in my life. But after reading your post, it makes me see the importance of having that relationship with God. Thanks for writing about it.
Hi Vince—I’m sorry to hear that things have been tough, but I’m glad my article brought a new perspective and hopefully a bit of hope. I encourage you to lean into God more than you ever have.
Sadly the world at large misunderstands prayer. Prayer only works if God is going to do the thing anyways. It’s not about getting what you want like in other religions. It’s about molding your mind and heart into praying for what god is already going to do, giving you comfort and peace and connection to God while you patiently wait for God to do as he wills. Too much pagan wish fulfillment piled on top of what the Hebrews initially believed. To the world, it sounds like a crutch and a cop out, but it is what it is.
Remember how Jesus said we shoud pray. To forgive and ask forgiveness, and help in surviving the onslaught of the devil while providing our daily needs. The rest is simply about communication.
Hello I having been asking myself this very question.. I have always understood that God is not a genie who honors every request .. I am a Christian who understands that we are to trust him in all things and we should lean not on our own understanding however, that is easier said than done. Especially when someone you love, your mother who brought you in this world is suffering and on the cusp of passing away. Faith is certainly tested .. pray for me
EJ—what is faith if everything in life goes as we want, right? Faith is believing God is good, regardless. Even when we lose a loved one. Even when life doesn’t make sense. Praying for peace for you.