The Purpose of Prayer

God speaks in a variety of ways. He often speaks to me as I read the Bible devotionally. Another way I frequently hear God’s voice is through sermons I listen to on podcast. One of my favorite podcasts is Gospel in Life, which is sermons by Tim Keller. Recently, I heard a sermon by Keller entitled “A Personal Testimony on Prayer.” God encouraged and challenged me through that message, and I wanted to share it with you. In the sermon, Keller talks about three purposes of prayer.

Prayer as helplessness. We realize our own helplessness to affect change in virtually every part of our lives, and we cry out to God for help. This is often one of the first ways we pray after being born again. And that makes total sense. Think of the helpless cries of a newborn who’s hungry, but unable to feed herself.

Prayer as work. As we grow, we begin to understand that God works in this world through prayer. So, we dive into prayer as working with and for God. We bring lists of things we need, or that we think need to be done. It’s very rewarding to partner with God on his mission in this world, and most Christians tend to camp out right here, praying as work for God. But, we’re missing out. God doesn’t just want to connect with us as a Boss to an employee. He desires something deeper.

Prayer as love. The deepest and most intimate purpose of prayer is love. We’re not praying so that we can accomplish anything. We’re praying so that we can be with God, personally experiencing his presence, love, and glory.

As I listened to Keller’s message, I heard God in my thoughts. When was the last time you sat down and opened your Bible for no other reason than spending time with Me? I realized I’d been living in prayer as work mode for a long time. Every time I talked with God it was about a sermon or a study or a prayer request or the direction of the church… it was about work.

My (working) prayer for this week is that we will all find a few moments to be with God, not trying to get something done, but just to love him and be enveloped in his love for us.