Why Do We Pray?

young woman praying in church - photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

If the answer to our prayers will sometimes be “no,” why do we pray in the first place? I have no doubt that our lists of personal reasons are varied and numerous:

  • We believe in God.
  • We seek to deepen that relationship with God.
  • We thank and praise God for the gifts in our life.
  • We seek comfort in our suffering.
  • We ask for prayers in our need.
  • We pray for others.
  • We seek to see what gets in the way of our relationship with God.
  • We discern God’s will for us.

I wonder, though, why God wants us to pray. While I am sure many others could articulate this better than I, my own thoughts are:

  • God deeply desires a relationship with us.
  • God wants all of our lives, so much so, that our way of being with God affects all of our doing. Prayer transforms us interiorly so our outward lives reflect God.
  • God wants us to acknowledge our dependence on God. In doing so, we show our trust in God and we acknowledge our great Creator, who has the power to do anything.

What are your thoughts? Why do we pray? Why does God want us to pray?

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash.

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Becky Eldredge
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls and The Inner Chapel, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

20 COMMENTS

  1. “Seek my face..”. the face of another person is just that: an-other. I know the other person is real because they can walk off, or not answer my phone call, or arrive at my door unexpectedly. They aren’t a projection of my imagination.
    In prayer I seek God as S/he is. God can’t be summoned as I wish. I am the one who is summoned. And so I try to find my right relationship to God in prayer. I search for a real encounter, a being-before a non imaginary God. Usually I look in the deepest silence of myself, knowing that God is my deepest ground, and sustains my existence and will help me grow ever more into my fullest self.
    But mostly in prayer I look to God for healing.

  2. Thanks Becky for this profound question, why do we pray?. I tend to find meaning in what Mahatma Gandhi used to say: “When every hope is gone, ‘when helpers fail and comforts flee,’ I find that help arrives somehow, from I know not where. Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal.”

  3. Dear Becky, Thank you for your very obviously thought provoking Questions(?) So many responses , all so interesting and refreshing, there is nothing left for me to say, except Thank you and God Bless to ALL you and respondents. A.M.D.G.

  4. St Teresa of the Cross believed ‘prayer is the highest achievement of which the human person is capable.’ From Richard Leonard SJ these words ‘prayer asks an unchanging God to change us to change the world.’ Both wonderful definitions. When I pray I experience a calmness, a place of solitude where I feel welcome. I have to be mindful that I allow time for prayer.

  5. I never use to pray. I stopped. I listened to rock and roll; Hollywood and I drank. These were the tools I used for support and guidance. They didn’t work. They led me astray. There was and is a voice I am privy to which I have opened up and now I listen to. It is remarkable. It is my conscience. My spiritual guide. So I pray to hear it and I pray for the strength to carry it out. Discern is a great word for this exercise and I pray with gratitude for what’s in my life and how God has blessed me. Many of these blessings went and still go unnoticed. I need to focus on God’s gifts. I never did before. Help me Lord.

  6. Whenever I pray, I hold the image of the art of Peter Clare of Jesus and the little children. In this picture, Jesus has a little girl on his lap. To me I am that little child aged 61. I sit in prayer for my Father to show me his great love for me, to be held so I can feel safe and secure, to be comforted, to tell him my struggles and ……….knowing He understands, is compassionate towards me and is with me in my life.

  7. Becky, thank you. Your post moved me to reflect:

    Believing in Ignatius’ view as I do:
    That God is in all things,
    most often inspires my thinking
    that God is “out there” in the world
    around me BUT your post this morning:
    Invites the stunning realization
    That God is within ALL of ME.

    So often I easily accept that God
    Is in the world around me
    But then I can’t find or experience
    The revelation that God
    Is in me in so many ways

    In my deep yearning to love
    And be loved
    In my acceptance of the Goodness
    And Peace that resides in me
    In my intellectual and spiritual searching

    In my need for so many gifts when:
    I am lonely, in pain, happy, confused,
    Joyful, peaceful,
    In my perception of others
    In my acceptance of others
    In my helpfulness of others
    In my acceptance of others help
    In my failures and in my successes
    In my weakness and in my strength

    Accepting this truth is overwhelming
    My prayer is that I do not become
    overwhelmed
    but rather
    that I accept the Grace
    of the Holy Spirit
    Amen

  8. “God wants us to acknowledge our dependence on God” – last Monday my husband and I were involved in a serious intersection collision. We, in our two door compact, were hit by a large SUV, pushed, spun, car wrecked. Fifteen inches closer to the driver’s side door and my husband would have been killed. As it was, we walked away with minor injuries.
    EMS and ER docs said we were “very lucky”, I said we were “blessed, the Hand of God was upon us”. Afterwards all we could do was pray THANK YOU, over and over.
    We realized that not only were we saved, but we were and are entirely dependent on God and not much else matters to the same degree.

  9. existentially we human beings are not just for this world. And somehow we know that there is an existence far greater than us that we need. Even non-Christians believe in a greater being. As for me, Personally this relationship exists anywhere with God, it maybe when we are happy, sad, grieving etc…the need for formal prayer, times of silence and contemplation but same time no matter how busy I am I know that I connect with God in prayer whatever I do. I need God more than He/she may need me I think

  10. One reason we do/should pray is because God commands it in His Word, so it becomes a matter of obedience.
    More experientially and personally, though, I need to pray to “re-tune to the right station” in my mind and heart. The world and my responsibilities in it distract me and I lose my footing; I need a frequent rest and reset.
    I think that when I pray, God stirs good things within me, and so then I can be and do more as He wishes me to. I remember that I am *His* girl, and I reflect Him more, both to myself and to those He places around me.

  11. The difference between an acquaintance and a close friend is what you say to each other. I want God to be close to me. Like the others that posted before me, I need to pray. I believe God wants to hear from me because He too wants to be my close confidant.
    m.

  12. Think your three reasons are also mine.
    And,I pray because God keeps drawing me and I cannot resist.
    Advent blessings to all, Suzanne

  13. I believe we pray by way of the grace of the gifts of faith, hope, trust and peace that our loving God bestows on us and for me it does ‘surpass all understanding’ and yet maybe not….mystery!

  14. I’m also a person who can’t help myself when it comes to prayer. I talk to God all the time about all sorts of things – just like I talk to friends. God’s love continues to overwhelm me every day and I just want to thank God and involve God in all of my life. I don’t know why God would want me to pray other than God loves creation so much and wants that relationship. I’m with Michelle and although my children are older, I feel so very good when they call or especially when my grandchildren run to me in their excitement to see me and shout out, “Nana! Nana!” I believe that is how God wants us to come – with wild excitement.

  15. Maybe for me the question is how can I not pray. I am with CS Lewis: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”
    But as to why God wants me to pray, to me it comes down to the desire of the One who loves us to hear our voices. I keep thinking of how I feel when my oldest’s face pops up on Skype and I hear him say “Hi, Mom!”

  16. God certainly doesn’t need the ego fluffing of hearing himself praised. We pray because WE need to understand our status under him. WE need to embrace our dependence on our Father. Our brain believes what we tell it (which is how positive (or negative) reinforcement works and why we have to be careful what we read and what we watch on videos and TV). When we pray we hear our words and our mind believes assimilates that and by default reinforces that praying, that dependence on God.
    Prayer is the champagne of the soul.

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