Why Should I Pray?

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” – Mt. 6:8

Children often have a litany of things they ask of their parents: “I want ice cream. I want to watch cartoons. I want to play video games.” These things in themselves are not bad and may add a little sweetness to children’s lives. However, parents have a broader perspective than their children and can discern between what they want and what they need. How much more so then is our Father who is all-knowing and all-loving aware of what we need despite what we ask of Him?

So why should I bother with petitionary prayers since God already knows what I need before I ask? Of course, praying for a loved one’s intention is a beautiful practice, but should I ask God for what I want or what I perceive I need? Prayer is a gift that draws me into an intimate relationship allowing me to discern the desires God puts in my heart. Like a child, my initial desires are underdeveloped, but with time they may reveal something that is deeper. For example, praying for a particular job may illuminate what my calling is. Praying to be able to forgive someone reveals my desire to love beyond my scars. Praying to have a family one day may be a signpost to my desire to sacrifice and give of myself. Praying for a certain suffering to stop may show me how much I need and desire God’s healing love and mercy. Even prayers where my mind is scattered and where I get frustrated that “nothing happened” exposes to me a desire for peace that stems from being in a relationship with God.

Jesus was the perfect model of how we are to pray to our Father. His intimacy with God allowed him to discover his calling and his desires. When I focus on the things I pray for, I can easily confuse what I want versus what I need. However, if I first seek the nearness of God, my deepest desires will be revealed and granted.

Heavenly Father, embrace us tightly so we may discern the desires you instill in us and glorify you in our unique gifts and talents.

Michael Jamnongjit