Make Prayer A Pattern in Your Life

Dear Friends,

In May of 1945, C.S. Lewis took on a topic that has puzzled people for centuries in an essay titled Why Pray? “The case against prayer… is this. The thing you ask for is either good—for you and for the world in general—or else it is not. If it is, then a good and wise God will do it anyway. If it is not, then He won’t. In neither case can your prayer make any difference.”

How would you tackle that one?

Here’s how Lewis responded. “If this argument is sound, surely it is an argument not only against praying, but against doing anything whatever? In every action, just as in every prayer, you are trying to bring about a certain result; and this result must be good or bad. Why, then, do we not argue as the opponents of prayer argue, and say that if the intended result is good, God will bring it to pass without your interference, and that if it is bad He will prevent it happening whatever you do? Why wash your hands? If God intends them to be clean, they’ll come clean without your washing them. If He doesn’t, they’ll remain dirty (as Lady MacBeth found) however much soap you use. Why ask for the salt? Why put on your boots? Why do anything?”

In ways that aren’t always clear to us, God has ordained that our prayers are part of how He works out His sovereignly ordained purposes. Our desires, our requests, our hopes, our hurts—God tells us to bring everything we think and feel and question and wish for to Him, and He promises to hear us. Our prayers matter to Him.

It’s easy (for me at least) to become too rational or logical when it comes to prayer. Why do I need to say anything to an omniscient God? By definition, I’m not telling Him anything He doesn’t already know. In fact, He knew what would be on my mind or in my heart before I did! And why would I ask God for anything, when He has promised to take care of me and give me what I need? God knows best. His ways are best. Shouldn’t I just keep my mouth shut and trust Him?

That logic works except for one thing—the God who knows best tells us to pray to Him. He teaches us how to pray to Him (Luke 11:1-4). He invites us to bring our burdens to Him (1 Peter 5:7). He tells us to make our requests known to Him (Philippians 4:7). In fact, we’re told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus Himself prayed.

The point is, our all-wise, all-knowing God wants us to pray to Him. He tells us our prayers matter. You don’t have to know how or why that works. Your job is to do as you’re told!

But honestly, we shouldn’t think of prayer as our job. It’s our privilege. The access we’re given in prayer is mind blowing. The Creator and King of the universe has given you His private number and takes your calls.

C.S. Lewis explained why that prayer is something humans are hardwired to do. “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.”

Even a professing atheist can find himself in a moment of desperation calling out to the God he doesn’t believe exists. When life overwhelms, something inside us instinctively cries out to God.

So the next time you find yourself wondering about the efficacy of prayer, remember–someone much wiser than you calls you and invites you to make prayer a pattern in your life. There’s a lot about prayer we won’t understand in this life. But the God who knows all things tells us our prayers matter. That should be enough to satisfy any of us.

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