Have you ever wondered if prayer was more for you than about God? Or maybe you’ve thought that prayer was just a way to obey God, but you didn’t really get any benefit out of it.
At different points in my journey with Christ, I’ve had similar thoughts along that spectrum. Sometimes I prayed like it was all about me and what I needed. But other times, I’ve prayed more out of duty than anything else. With this article, I’m going to explore both sides and help us understand how praying to God helps us grow closer to God.
So, is prayer for you, or for God?
Praying to God is a way to give Him glory, praise, and thanks, and it is also a way for you to share with God your concerns and joys. So, prayer is both for God and for you. Prayer lets you be in a relationship and honor the Almighty God in a personal way.
I encourage you to be open to what I’m sharing, as it has come from a lifetime of praying and helping others to pray. We’ll be looking at how prayer is for God, how prayer is for you, and how prayer is very much a back-and-forth communication between you and God.
Would you let us know your feedback, questions, and comments? We welcome your thoughts. Just share them with us at the end of this article.
Why Prayer Is For God
It’s easy to think that if God knows everything, then why do you even need to pray? Praying is for God because it is a way for you to glorify God. It’s also a way for you to live in obedience to God, as scripture commands us to pray. Following God and prayer go together.
“You do not have, because you do not ask” ( James 4.2, ESV).
Prayer Helps You Glorify God
Let me be clear from the get-go: God does not need anything from you or me or anything else in all of creation. So, the fact that God invites you to pray to Him is a sign of His strength, His “Almightiness.” Your prayers to God glorify Him because they bear witness to your trust that God will reveal His strength as He answers the prayer according to His will and purpose.
“For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!” ( Isaiah 64.6, NLT).
As God engages with your prayer, He shows His power by working on what you prayed for. God doesn’t work as a servant you call on to do whatever you want. Rather God reveals why He is to be glorified. Think about it. The Almighty Creator of the universe hears your prayer.
That very reality glorifies God because it shows how loving and personal God truly is. How could you not glorify a God who notices you in such a way? As you pray to God about anything and at any time, you bring glory to Him because you know that He is the only One who can answer you.
Prayer Helps You Serve And Obey God
You can serve God in many ways: volunteering in the community, singing in the choir at church, giving a neighbor a hand, and so forth. Did you know that you are serving God, even obeying God, when you pray?
“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” ( Philippians 4.5-7, NKJV).
Along with this encouragement in the Apostle Paul’s writing, scripture is filled with instances of God inviting you to seek Him out, to call out to Him, cry and plead to him with your concerns, to pray to Him. God starts this relationship with you.
He wants to have an active, dynamic relationship with you. Your part in serving God is praying to Him. Prayer lets you bring yourself to God, and God can meet you there. As God meets you in your prayers, you discover that while prayer is for God, it can also be for you at the same time.
Why Prayer Is For You
Prayer is for you, too. Think about what you face each day. Consider how much you can handle on your own. How many times have you wanted Someone bigger than you, more powerful than you, to intercede and face the struggle with you? When have you needed God to carry the burden for you?
Have you thought about how prayer is a gift from God for you?
Prayer Is A Gift From God For You
Prayer is more than just a way to communicate with God. It’s a gift from God’s hand to you, personally.
God desires fellowship with you, out of love for you. Isn’t that a tremendous privilege to be a part of? God initiates a relationship with you through Jesus Christ. He has opened up the way for you to come to Him, as God is not a distant God. He is as close to you as the air you breathe.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” ( John 4.23-24, NIV).
When you pray, you are conversing with the God who made you and saved you. There’s no greater gift!
Prayer Enables Fellowship With God
When you pray, you are willingly choosing to put yourself in God’s presence. You are deciding to be in fellowship with God, to accept the reality of how much you need God and depend on God.
“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming” ( Psalm 27.8, NLT).
You are created with a need for God that only God can fill. Prayer enables you to fill that empty spot in your soul. Prayer puts you in conversation with the One who knows you better than anyone else, the one who “knitted you together in your mother’s womb.”
By enabling fellowship with God, prayer lets you communicate with God and opens you up to hear from God as well.
Prayer Is A Two-Way Communication With God
As I’ve shown so far, prayer is for God, and prayer is for you. God talks to you in prayer and in many other ways, and you can talk to God when you pray. It’s not an either/or proposition, but both-and. Prayer lets you listen to God, and prayer lets you talk to God.
Prayer Is Listening To God
Have you ever said, “I wish God would just tell me what to do, what direction to go”? Or perhaps, you’ve uttered something like, “If God would just tell me what to do, I’ll do it.”
So often we can come to God with all of our needs, requests, concerns, and wants, that we forget to keep an ear out for what God may want to tell us. In any relationship that matters, there will be two-way communication, won’t there?
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” ( Psalm 46.10, NIV).
As powerful as God is, He will speak to you best in the quietest of ways, at least that’s what I’ve found in my experience. But, it’s hard to listen for God with all of the noise and distractions in our lives, isn’t it?
Sometimes God will speak to you directly when you are praying. Often, though, God will speak to you through scripture or circumstances in your life. So, as you pray, remember to listen for God, as He is always speaking.
Prayer Is Speaking To God
Think about someone you are in a relationship with. Do you talk to them on a regular basis? Of course, you do. However you do it, you communicate with that person, so they hear your voice, and know your feelings and thoughts.
It is the same with God. Prayer basically is speaking to God. You talk to God, telling Him what is happening in your life, what concerns you have, and what struggles you are facing. And you can do all this with boldness, not with terror.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” ( Hebrews 4.16, NIV).
You can be honest with God when you pray because He already knows what you’re feeling. There’s nothing you can tell God that He hasn’t already heard before, so there’s no need to stuff what you’re feeling down or try to hide it.
Whatever your thoughts were before you started reading this, I hope your understanding of prayer has been enlarged and deepened. I hope that you want to grow closer to God through prayer, appreciating that it is for God’s glory, and also for your benefit.
May your journey with God grow as you pray for yourself and others. If you ever need some help praying for a specific situation in your life, then come back to Grace and Prayers. There are hundreds of prayers here to help you get the right words flowing towards God in prayer. Keep on praying!