“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
“Know Your Why” was the recent topic at my Weight Watcher meeting. The leader challenged us not to just quickly find the answer to the question “Why do we want to lose weight?” but to sit with that question for a while, allowing a variety of answers to emerge. She kept asking Why is that your why, then encouraging us to dig even deeper exploring the why behind every why.
This probing into our why’s helped us articulate and describe our deepest desire for being healthier and inspired us to keep motivated even in difficult times.
2018 is the year of prayer here on the Healthy Spirituality blog and last month we explore the definitions of prayer. Each month this year on the Tending the Holy Thursdays there will be a focus on an aspect of prayer and of course a monthly free download.
On my Thursday posts, I pick one theme (or person of faith) to explore deeper. I call this series Tending the Holy Thursdays. This month let’s look at why we pray.
I am excited too about this month’s free download “40 Bible Verses about Prayer,” You can get this resource free by clicking on the button at the end of this post. I hope these verses help you explore the many reasons why we pray.
I am going to be honest. Sometimes prayer is hard. Praying for someone I don’t understand or even like. Persisting with unanswered prayer. Crying out in pain, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Even facing those occasionally doubts if anyone is really listening or cares about what I am praying about. Don’t you wonder at times why we pray?
Let’s go deeper the next three Thursdays and explore the why behind our whys about praying. I have been talking with God about this, asking for courage to step into this unknown territory where I am not sure of all the answers.
I started with the basics: pray and listen, then read the Word of God. Two key reasons why we pray is we are commanded to pray and God calls us to pray.
Why Pray? God’s Command
God commands us to pray. Here are several passages from the Bible illustrating this directive:
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
“Pray continually” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …” 1 Timothy 2:1
Prayer is an act of obedience. God directs us to pray and we respond.
C.S. Lewis put it, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”
Why Pray – Jesus Prayed Regularly
Jesus prayed regularly. We are to follow Jesus and model our lives after him. He prayed in the temple, he taught his disciples to pray and he often prayed with alone and with his community of friends.
Gospels are full of references to the prayers of Christ, including these examples:
“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” –Matthew 14:23
“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.'” –Matthew 26:36
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” –Mark 1:35
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” –Luke 5:16
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” –Luke 6:12
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” –Luke 18:1
But there is so many more reasons to why we pray.
Why Pray? – Called and Invited to Come
God isn’t just a mean commander – “do it my way or the highway” judgmental ruler demanding absolute obedience.
We pray because God loves us, invites us to come to him. Our prayers are steeped in love – our love for God and his unconditional love for us.
Think about that for a minute – The Creator of the universe, the almighty God, the One who is beyond words and human comprehension – wants to talk with us. With us individually. With us as a community. He wants to hear us even when we can’t find the words. I shake my head in amazement. Why wouldn’t we accept this priceless invitation?
One of my favorite prayers is from Anthony de Mello:
Look at God
Looking at you…
Wow! God who is more, More, much more wants to be with me, with us.
This alone is reason to pray – to accept this incredible invitation, immersed in love.
- Prayer brings me to my knees acknowledging he is God.
- Prayer bursts my heart open in gratitude.
- Prayer then leads to a deep thirst to know this God more fully.
- Prayer reminds me who we are, how much we need God and that he is the source of all life.
- Prayer opens our hearts where we discover and explore our true selves – something we often can’t see without God’s light.
Why pray? We are called, invited to come into God’s presence and be with him. God gives us clear commands in the Bible that prayer is foundational and a key spiritual practice. Just pondering my why behind my why and even deeper whys – drenched me with joy, hope and peace that could only come from God. The more I explored why I pray, the more doors opened into wonderful worship.
Next week we will continue to explore why we pray by discussing how prayer centers us, and helps us concentrate on God and on others in sacred communication.
Ponder this week about why you pray. Explore the why behind your why and keep asking why. Share in the comments any insight you discovered.