Why Pray?
If God knows all of our thoughts, why pray?

Some have asked: If God knows all our thoughts, why pray?

That’s a great question. There are many different reasons why we should pray, yet the most obvious is that God commands it.

When you pray,” not “if you pray,” Christ told His disciples when explaining prayer in many passages (Matthew 6:5; Luke 11:2; 18:1). God expects us to pray.

But that really doesn’t answer the question. What we really need to understand is why God commands prayer?

You can find the answer in Luke 21. Here, Christ is telling the disciples what will happen in the time just before His Second Coming. At the end of a long prophecy, He tells His disciples, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always ….” But why? “[T]hat ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (verse 36).

When God commands us to do something it is always for our own good. In this case, God commands us to pray so we can be accounted worthy to escape the catastrophes to occur right before His return.

But hold on, you might think, what do you mean we have to be accounted worthy? Aren’t we already worthy? Why would we have to pray?

More excellent questions. These, too, must be answered to fully understand why we need to pray.

Let’s recap what prayer is. We’ve written that prayer is a personal, intimate and understanding communication with God. “Pour out your heart before him [God],” King David wrote describing prayer in Psalm 62:8. This is a great description—prayer isn’t just talking, it is a heartfelt communication with God. But there is something we need to know about our hearts.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

This assessment can be hard to come to terms with, but it’s one repeated many times in the pages of the Bible. No one is righteous of themselves, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:10. Our hearts, or the representation of our mind’s basic motives and intentions, are not inherently good. The Bible says the human mind, without God’s Spirit, is even hostile to God (Romans 8:7-9).

But if God created man, does that mean He created the evil within man? Would a loving God set up His creation for failure? Of course not. So where did this evil nature come from?

The Bible says it is the result of Satan the devil who has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Satan developed this nature through his own reasoning and choice, and now broadcasts his evil moods, attitudes and impulses to human minds (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Even though no one is forced to respond to, or obey, those impulses, the world automatically does so without realizing it. Man has acquired Satan’s nature, which we call “human nature.” This isn’t taught by mainstream religion—it is a mystery to the world. If you would like a deeper study into what Satan is and how he influences man, watch this Key of David video by presenter Gerald Flurry.

The point is that without God’s Spirit, we actually are opposed to God. Even those with God’s Spirit still stumble and sin (1 John 1:8). The Bible defines sin in 1 John 3:4 as the transgression of God’s law, which was codified in Exodus 20. It can be quite the struggle to live by God’s law and His way of life, in the process overcoming our human nature and Satan’s broadcast. Paul was very honest about his personal struggle.

For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  … For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. … For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:15, 18-19, 22-24; RSV).

We can all relate to this same struggle. And it can leave us asking the same question Paul did. How can we possibly overcome the power of Satan and the pulls of the flesh? Paul answers in the very next verse, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (verse 25). Christ is the one who strengthens us and makes all thing possible (Philippians 4:13).

How does Christ strengthen us? Through the Holy Spirit!

“For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:13-14). The Holy Spirit is the  power of God and crucial in a true Christian’s life. This power enables Christ to live in us and gives us the strength to overcome anything. In fact, Paul writes that without it we aren’t true Christians.

How then do we obtain the Holy Spirit? Through prayer!

“How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” Christ asked. We have to ask God for it, in prayer. And He will supply it (Philippians 1:19), but it must be replenished daily (2 Corinthians 4:16). That is why we should pray.

Prayer is absolutely essential for salvation. Without it we cannot receive the power to overcome our human nature and develop the holy, righteous character of God. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7). This takes us back to Christ’s warning in Luke 21. Without meaningful, active and effective prayer, without asking God daily for His help and Spirit, we cannot receive the power to overcome and we will not be able to stand before the Son of man.

This is why we need to pray!

To learn more about God’s Holy Spirit, read our article, ”The Holy Spirit Is … the Power of God!

If you are praying, but aren’t breaking through to God and getting answers, make sure you read our other articles on prayer: