Why Pray if God Already Knows?
Written By Ben Laur
If God knows everything, what is the point in praying at all?
Christians have been wrestling with questions like these for ages. The answer to this question is complex and multifaceted, so let me answer just one facet of this with a profound mystery: God desires and invites us into relationship with Him.
Even Jesus, the Son of God, though He is God, nevertheless prayed to his Father. Apparently, not even the Son of God believes that prayer is excluded due to the fact that God is all-knowing. Rather, the triune God––Father, Son, and Spirit––show us that God is relational.
Amazingly, through Jesus we may be adopted into this family to call God our Father, and share in their love and joy together in fellowship with the Spirit. Because of Jesus, we are welcomed into a relationship with God!
We all know that every good relationship thrives on communication, and that communication requires both listening and speaking. We listen to God through the Bible, and we speak to God through prayer, and as our communication with God thrives, so will our relationship with God.
Just as relationships are not matters of cold, indifferent exchanges of information, neither is prayer. When a happily married couple regularly exchanges “I love you’s,” it is not because their spouse doesn’t know. It’s because there is delight in simply being in the other’s presence and in the mutual expression of their love. Similarly, any loving parent delights in giving good things to their child who asks. In any loving relationship, intimacy goes deeper than information, and to a sharing and intermingling of hearts.
C. S. Lewis says something about the mystery of this relational nature to prayer in one volume of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew. In one scene, Aslan sends the children, Digory and Polly, along with Fledge, a winged horse, on a mission far away to the Western Wild. After journeying a while, they pause for a rest, tired and hungry. While Fledge makes a delicious meal of the grass, Polly and Digory find themselves at a loss:
“Well, I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Digory.
“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.
“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.
“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse (still with his mouth full). “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”
Week 4 of 10 Prayer
Since the first human being was called to work and keep God’s creation, we have created tools to empower fruitful work. The same is true in our spiritual pursuit of prayer. The Psalms have been the refined tools of prayer for God’s people for millennia.
Though some practices of prayer are lacking or misunderstood in certain circles, we want to lean into them for our focus on the discipline of prayer. One such practice is imaginative prayer. Ignatius of Loyala (1491-1556) called this contemplation. Ignatius was convinced that God can speak to us by the power of the Spirit as surely through our imaginative efforts in Scripture as through our thoughts and memories of Scripture.
The disciplines are practices that the Spirit of God often uses to do His work of shaping us to be more like Jesus. In light of the sharpening article from Tuesday, practice the discipline of prayer in this way today.