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Why Pray?

God does not need us, but we need Him. God created us to be loved by Him. He created us for Himself. He created us to glorify Him. Prayer is one of the activities that we need to engage in. Prayer, however, is for our own spiritual benefit and not for God who needs nothing at all from us. I am going to discourse on the reasons and purposes for prayer in this blog post.

In the Psalms, it says:

I will take no bullocks out of thine house, nor he-goats out of thy flocks. For all the wild beasts of the thicket are Mine, the cattle on the mountains, and oxen. I know all the birds of the sky; and the beauty of the field is Mine. If I should be hungry, I will not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness of it. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? (Psalm 49:9-13; Psalm 50:9-13, Hebrew)

Animal sacrifices were part of ancient Jewish worship. This passage from the Psalms in effect says that God does not need those sacrifices. God does not need worship from anyone. The Koran, in several places, says that God is All-Sufficient.

As for the unbeliever, God is All-sufficient nor needs any being. (Koran 3:97, Arberry)

Whosoever struggles, struggles only to his own gain; surely God is All-sufficient nor needs any being. (Koran 29:6, Arberry)

Indeed, We gave Lokman wisdom: ‘Give thanks to God. Whosoever gives thanks gives thanks only for his own soul’s good, and whosoever is ungrateful — surely God is All-sufficient, All-laudable.’ (Koran 31:12, Arberry)

To God belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth; surely God — He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable. (Koran 31:26, Arberry)

O men, you are the ones that have need of God; He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable. (Koran 35:15, Arberry)

God is the All-sufficient; you are the needy ones. (Koran 47:38, Arberry)

Although God does not need us, He still loves us. He created us to be loved by Him. He never created anything to be hated.

For Thou lovest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which Thou hast made: for never wouldest Thou have made any thing, if Thou hadst hated it. (Wisdom 11:24, KJV)

God created everything for Himself. (Colossians 1:16) God established everything for His glory. He created us to glorify Him.

The Lord hath not given power to the saints to declare all His marvellous works, which the Almighty Lord firmly settled, that whatsoever is might be established for His glory. (Sirach 42:17, KJV)

Even all who are called by My name: for I have prepared him for My glory, and I have formed him, and have made him. (Isaiah 43:7, LXX)

The chief goal for which we should strive in all of our actions is to glorify God.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31, NKJV)

One of the purposes for prayer, therefore, is to glorify God.

In the 49th Psalm, it says:

The sacrifice of praise will glorify Me: and that is the way wherein I will shew to him the salvation of God. (Psalm 49:23, LXX; Psalm 50:23, Hebrew)

Sincere worship glorifies God. Jesus said:

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:8, NKJV. See also Philippians 1:11.)

Fruit, in the Bible, is offspring (Psalm 126:3, LXX; Psalm 127:3, Hebrew) and new converts (John 4:34-38).  Fruit is also the qualities that God produces in us as we continue to cooperate with Him in our salvation.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23, NKJV)

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14, NKJV)

Fruit is good works. (II Corinthians 9:10; Colossians 1:10) So, one of the purposes of prayer is to become people who glorify God by manifesting in our lives those qualities enumerated in Galatians 5:22,23. Another purpose of prayer is to obtain from God mercy to help those who do not know God or who go through life ignoring Him to come to Him in repentance. Of course, one should pray for one’s children to inherit the Kingdom of God on the Day of Judgment, that is, obtain a home in Jannah. Another reason to pray is to obtain assistance from God in doing good works.

New converts, godly children, and good works glorify God. So, does worship. In the Bible, worship is called fruit, too.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15, NKJV)

As we go through life we are often tempted to do and say things that we should not do or say. One of the goals to be achieved in prayer is to obtain victory over temptation.

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41, NKJV)

The Koran says:

Recite that which hath been inspired in thee of the Scripture, and establish worship. Lo! worship preserveth from lewdness and iniquity, but verily remembrance of Allah is more important. And Allah knoweth what ye do. (Koran 29:45, Pickthall)

The Koran says the same thing that Jesus said but in different words.

St. Paul gives us another purpose for prayer in his First Epistle to Timothy.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (I Timothy 2:1,2, NKJV)

The lack of peace in a region of the world might caused by a lack of prayer by its inhabitants. The Koran says:

God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Koran 13:11)

So, in order to obtain peace, we should pray for everyone. That is what St. Paul was saying.

Another reason to pray is to obtain mercy from God and help in time of need.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV)

St. James, Jesus’ stepbrother, said:

Yet you do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:2, NKJV)

People do not have what they need because they never ask God. God already knows what we need before we ask Him. Jesus said:

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8, NKJV)

So, although God already knows what we need, He still requires us to ask Him to meet our needs. Prayer is really for our own spiritual benefit.

The Koran says:

So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and during periods of the night [exalt Him] and at the ends of the day, that you may be satisfied. (Koran 20:130, Sahih International)

We all have spiritual needs. Prayer is a means of meeting those spiritual needs. Jesus said:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6, NKJV)

If you want to achieve a high level of sanctity, pray for righteousness. Pray that God will continually change you into that kind of person that He wants you to become. Finally, another reason for prayer is to remember God. King David said:

I remembered Thy name, O Lord, in the night, and kept Thy law. (Psalm 118:55, LXX; Psalm 119:55, Hebrew)

The Koran says:

Surely I am Allah, there is no god but I, therefore serve Me and keep up prayer for My remembrance. (Koran 20:14, Shakir)

Whenever we go through life ignoring our omnipresent Creator, that is not good. Praying at regular intervals helps us to remember God — the One for whom we were created.

To summarize, we were created for God to glorify Him and to be loved by Him. God does not need our prayers. He is All-Sufficient. He already knows what we need before we ask. If we do not have what we need, it is because we have not asked Him for it. He still requires us to ask. We need to pray so that we become the kind of people God wants us to be and manifest in our lives those qualities listed by St. Paul in Galatians 5:22,23. We need to pray for the conversion of those who do not walk with God in their daily lives. We need to pray so that we will live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. We need to pray for the salvation of our children, relatives, and friends. We need to pray in order to obtain victory over temptations. We need to pray so that we remember God. We need to pray because the sacrifice of praise glorifies God. That is why we are here — to glorify Him.

 

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