“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (v. 18 NIV). Ephesians 6:10-20
God knows what we need before we ask Him, and in His providence He meets those needs. Yet, if God knows what we need, why do we pray? To understand the relationship between God’s providence and prayer, we must have a right understanding of prayer. While God certainly knows what we need and the desires of our hearts, He calls us to verbalize our needs to Him. The reason He does this is not because He needs to be nudged out of some slumber to act on our behalf, but because prayer benefits us and deepens our dependence on Him.
A.W. Pink said, “Prayer is not designed for the furnishing of God with the knowledge of what we need, but it is designed as a confession to Him of our sense of need.” Calvin explained that the Lord instructs His people to pray, “for He ordained it not so much for His own sake as for ours. Now He wills … that His due be rendered to Him.… But the profit of this sacrifice also, by which He is worshiped, returns to us.”
In prayer we acknowledge our dependence on the Lord and give Him His due glory. Often in the Psalms, David recounts God’s great works to Him. God obviously knows what He has accomplished, but by telling God of His glorious deeds, David strengthens His relationship with the Lord and worships Him in truth.
Prayer is effective in our lives because God has chosen to use it as a means to bring about His purposes. Therefore, it is important to know how to pray properly. Prayer should include adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. We should not pray in a manner that does not glorify God, such as lacking concentration, praying against the Law of God, and going beyond the limits of what we should ask. We should pray according to God’s will in all things. This is why it is important to know His Word and be directed by His Spirit when we come before His throne.
God gloriously brings about His eternal decrees through the prayers of His people. Prayer changes people and events (James 5:17–18) and stirs the hearts of God’s people (Luke 18:2–6; 22:44). Prayer never changes God’s mind, but it plays an important part in His providential plan for His creation (James 5:16).
From your knowledge of Scripture, list the benefits and obligations of prayer. Look up prayer in your concordance or cross references to help you. Do you pray with adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication? Strive to pray in a complete manner before God. Keep in mind God’s purposes in prayer.
Passages for Further Study
- Matthew 6:5–15; 26:41
- Luke 18:1–8
- Romans 8:26–27
- Philippians 4:4–9