Pastoral Perspectives

The Purposes of Prayer

In anything you do or attempt to do, there must be the purpose in doing so. You do not just jump into it, without understanding anything about it and do it, right? You would want to find out more about it before doing it. Do you do anything people asks you to do? Of course, you will not! When you do not realise the purpose of doing it, you would not want to do it at all. In anything you hope to do or desire to do, you would need to know the purpose for doing them. Have you heard of the purposes of prayer? The reasons for prayer will lead us to the purposes of prayer. They are co-related. They are linked with each other. It is always good to know why you do what you do or else you will be doing something blindly, meaninglessly, and purposelessly.

The word, “purpose”, caught my attention this week as I pondered over “prayer”. That is why I have decided to write on “The Purposes of Prayer”. Attending the Alpha Course gives me the impetus to write on this vital topic called, “Prayer”. One purpose of prayer is “Relationship”. Prayer is the platform for building relationship with God and then with one another. When we come to God in prayer, we have the desire to relate with God. If you come to Him just to get something from Him, then you would be disappointed when you do not get anything from Him. This kind of prayer may not be of much purpose, isn’t it? God desires us to relate with Him. God delights in our relationship with Him. God is the initiator and the originator of prayer. Prayer is His idea. God provides this beautiful platform for you and I to approach Him to build relationship with Him. We can only approach God through His beloved Son Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. That is what the Bible says: “For through him (Jesus) we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” What a privilege to be able to access to (or approach) God the Father through God the Son Jesus with God the Spirit! Through prayer, our knowledge of God deepens and our discovery of the attributes of God enhances. In corporate prayer, not only our relationship with God can be built up but our relationship with one another can also be built up. In corporate prayer, the people of God lift their earnest prayers up to God and encourage every prayer person to encounter the beauty of God and of Christ. Prayer draws God’s people together to grow in this relationship with God and with one another. When you understand the purpose of prayer in this manner, you would really want to engage in prayer.

It is the beautiful relationship we have with God which gives us that inner desire and pure delight to long (or yearn) to commune with God through prayer. Our relationship with God is built on both Word and prayer. That is what the Bible says: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in us is such a beautiful picture and experience. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. We all need to abide in Him and allow God’s Word to abide in us. Only when we do these, we can and will bear much fruit. When you ask in prayer, you would not ask what you desire but you would ask what God desires because you are already in that relationship with Him and you have come to know what He wants. What a beautiful thing when you ask whatever you “wish” and it is done for you! The word “wish” here refers to “you already know what God desires”. Basically, you ask according to God’s Will. Through prayer, you would know God more and know yourself more too. Each time when you pray, you would learn new things from the Lord. Knowing God and His Word helps me in my prayer. The delight in communing with God and the delight in knowing God’s Word enrich my prayer life.

Another purpose of prayer is “Response”. When you pray, you would receive God’s response to your prayer. Would you not rejoice in receiving responses from God to your earnest prayers? Whether those responses are in line with what you have asked of God matter to what and how your responses to God are! When you have a close relationship with God, His responses would deepen that relationship rather than diminish it. God’s responses to my prayer can be either “yes” or “no” and sometimes, can even be “wait”. Whatever those responses are, they would not dampen my relationship with God. When you pray in a certain manner and the answer does not come, God may direct you to pray in another manner. Through prayer, I get to know more of myself too. I learn patience and humility in my prayer closet where I commune with God. Through God’s responses to my prayers, I learn to alter my prayers in accordance with what He would direct me to pray for.

Still another purpose of prayer is “Restoration”. When you are trapped by worldly pursuits, God, by His mercy and grace, draws you back to Himself. That is what the Bible says: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” You can come to God in repentance, asking Him to restore you to a right relationship with Him. God, in His mercy and grace, will restore you. He is faithful and good. He will answer your humble prayer. When you see a brother or a sister in Christ straying away from their faith in Christ, you can present him or her, asking God to draw them back to Himself and He certainly will answer that prayer of yours.

Having learnt these three purposes of prayer, let us readily go to our prayer closet and really desire to deepen our relationship with God, delighting in His responses to prayers and discerning those who need restoration to God.

Preacher George Ang

March 20, 2022