A little boy once wrote a list of presents he wanted to get for Christmas. When his father read it, he was amazed by the details for each item. He asked his son, “Why is this list so detailed?” The little boy answered, “If I don’t let Santa know exactly what I want, he won’t get it for me.”
People all over the world pray. But when asked why they pray, many of them will give the explanation that the little boy gave to his father: “If I don’t tell God exactly what I want, he won’t get it for me!” To most people, God is a kind of “Heavenly Santa Claus” who takes our requests. But our Lord Jesus Christ has shown us that prayer should have a different purpose.
God is unlike us. He doesn’t need anything. Anything. He decided to create human beings in order to share His love and His life with us—to make us equal with Him. But He doesn’t need anything from us. He doesn’t need our prayers to let Him know what we need. He already knows what we need. He doesn’t need our prayers of praise to feel good about Himself. “Feeling good” about yourself is a human problem.
So why should we pray?
We should pray, because we need it. Prayer doesn’t change God; it changes us. More than anything (food, water, sunlight, friends, etc.), we need God. But God loves us too much to force Himself on us. If we want Him in our lives, we need to invite Him in with prayer. If we want to share in the life that He wants to share with us, we need to pray. When we praise God, we don’t do it to make Him feel better; we do it because we need to be reminded that He is holy, good, and loving. When we ask God for something, we don’t do it just because we think it will help us get what we want; we do it because we want God’s will to be done in our lives. If God wants something for us, then we definitely should want it, too.
- Why do you think we should pray for other people?
- What are some things about us that can change if we pray?
- What would happen if we never prayed?