Why Pray?

     Most people think of prayer as asking God for things for themselves or others, and regard it as what you do when things are really desperate. So far this is not wrong. But prayer can be much more. The Christian tradition has always seen regular private prayer as an essential part of Christian life, through which God can heal and strengthen and guide us. We often think only special people – saints or mystics – can experience God. But this is not true. One recent survey found that 75% of people who identified themselves as Christians said they had at some time experienced the presence of God. People’s personal walk with God is very intimate, however, and not something they blab about to everyone.
    If you are one of the many people who say “I really should try to pray regularly, but I’m just too busy and stressed out to add one more thing to my life,” you need to look at prayer differently. Don’t think of it as another thing you have to do. Even a short period of prayer provides an opportunity to disengage yourself from the rat race, to be freed from the pressure of time and experience something of the leisureliness and eternity of God. Prayer focusing on receptivity, surrender and praise provides rest and healing for our minds and hearts -- like finding an oasis in the desert. It enables us to see ourselves and our lives more from God’s perspective and less from our own or that of the world, and it may turn out that a lot of the things we thought we absolutely had to do are of no value at all. And there can be times in our lives when what God wants most from us is prayer. Prayer is more something God does in us than something we do. It changes us. And God can use our prayers to help others.
    Admitting we need help can be hard. Our culture emphasizes self-reliance (especially for men), and people can often be cruel if they sense weakness. So you may feel you should be strong and handle things yourself without bothering God. But coming to God in prayer does not “bother” God. That is the wrong way to think about it. There are gifts God wants to give us that we can only receive when we open ourselves to Him – gifts we don’t have to earn. We don’t have to be strong and good for God to love us; it is God’s love that enables us to become good and strong.
    So why pray? Because no matter what we attain in a worldly way, there is still a kind of emptiness and restless dissatisfaction in us. God re-orders our desires when we pray so that the compass needle of our souls points to Him – the True North. As Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”