Why Pray?

Though I pray often, I must admit that I really have no idea why. Searching the internet has brought up several reasons, none of which I am entirely convinced is suitable for a 20-question test drive. Some of the more popular rationales of prayer I came across are:

“We pray because God wants us to tell him what is on our minds. Even though he sees and understands our situations better than we do, he still wants to hear from us in our own words.”

“We talk with our friends about all kinds of stuff. In the same way, we should talk to God about everything that is happening in our lives and how we feel about it.”

“We do not pray to enlighten God, as if an omniscient God would bask in ignorance without our information, we pray so that we might discern God’s wisdom in the way He is provident.”

“In many life situations, we don’t know God’s will until we pray. We want to be in line with God’s will, and prayer is not so much about changing God’s mind as it is to bring ourselves into alignment with God’s heart.”

“If the sinless Messiah, the author and perfecter of our faith, desperately sought the Father, how much more do we, mere mortals, need to seek His will and pray?”

“In a world filled with chaos, we pray because prayer is the antidote to anxiety. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds. We pray because prayer alleviates our weariness.”

I am not convinced that any of the aforementioned reasons for prayer is a good reason for me to pray. I have had periods throughout my life where I regularly pray and other periods where I don’t. I have found that the periods where I did pray were less miserable than those where I didn’t. I think if you have had those same on/off periods in your life, you will understand what I mean.

Prayer has not been a byproduct of good times in my life, but rather an instigator of them. I know that those periods of regular prayer began out of a need to communicate with God that I felt to my very core. The blessings I received from that communication were actually more abundant than what I asked or hoped for. They didn’t always come in the way or form that I thought they would, but they did come. Furthermore, it was through prayer that I actually opened up my mind to seeing the answers. I doubt I would have noticed them otherwise. In that respect, I believe that God may have already answered my prayers before I made them. The actual act of praying only brought about a self-realization of what was happening to me, something I was otherwise blind to.

Another reason that I didn’t mention, but was popular, was the simple reason that we pray is because God told us to. This, to me, is the best reason. It is putting forth the notion that God’s will is more important than our own and we actually must do physical things here in mortality to continue progressing. On the other hand, a lack of prayer demonstrates a lack of faith in God and a lack of trust in His word.

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