So what does?
Many people would say they pray to “get to know God better”, or “to visit with my Father”, or “to spend time with God”.
So let’s say you and I are on a road trip. And for 400 miles you don’t shut up about every trivial event in your life, your hopes and dreams, your fears and failures. At the end of that trip... can you really say that YOU know ME better?
Likewise, prayer does nothing to help you get to know God better; it’s just free therapy. Talk to God, talk to your cat, talk to a psychiatrist; as far as knowing the other person better, it’s all the same. Because that’s not what prayer is for!
God is our Father; and “pray” is just an archaic English word meaning “ask”. So if you want to truly understand what prayer is for, think about what you might ask your human father for.
As a child, did you ask your father to put food on the table? Of course not! What father would have to be told to FEED his children??
Did you ask him to clothe you? Give you a place to live? Of course not! If it was at all possible, your father would have done those things for you... before you were old enough to talk!
Did you ask him to protect you from bad influences? To teach you to be a better person? To correct you when you were wrong? To take you to the doctor when you were sick, to save up for your college fund, to build an inheritance for you?
Of course not; if he were a good father, and if it were at all possible, he would have done all of these things before you asked; and he would have done them even if you had NEVER asked!
And he probably would be insulted that you thought you HAD to ask in the first place!
Ironically, most Christians would tell you that “prayer shows faith in God”. But if someone asks you to take care of their cat while they’re out of town, and then texts you every hour to remind you to feed it, clean the litter box, and generally make sure it’s alright... wouldn’t that annoy you?
Their constant badgering doesn’t show faith in you; the exact opposite, in fact! It proves they think you don’t know how to do what you agreed to do, don’t care about their pet, or are just not competent to care for it!
Matthew 6:7-8 NKJV And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Likewise, prayer does not show faith in God. In fact, it shows the precise opposite: your fear that God isn’t going to save you. And sadly, most prayers stem from the fear that God doesn’t know about you, doesn’t care about you, or is incapable of saving you!
Take a common prayer like “Lord, watch over everyone on their way home from church”. Did God not already promise that in places like Psalm 91:12 and Matthew 28:20? Has He forgotten to watch over you? So what possible point could there be in reminding Him to do what He’s already supposed to do??
I know that’s terribly disturbing; but be honest:
Why tell God your problems, unless you thought He didn’t know?
Why remind God of His promises, unless you think He forgot them?
Why tell God how to fix things, unless you didn’t think He can’t figure it out on His own?
I feel like I need to say once more that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pray – although you should probably pray a lot less. But you need to pray correctly, in a way that makes sense!
95% or more of all prayers people make to God are about things they would never think to ask their human father for when they were children!
If you could have that kind of faith in your FALLIBLE, HUMAN father, the FAITH to not bother to ask him for things you KNOW he will provide…