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Why Pray If God Already Knows?

Job 37:16
Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge.

Psalm 147:5
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

1 Samuel 2:3
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

Isaiah 55:9
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Job 28:24
For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.

Hebrews 4:13
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Isaiah 46:9
I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done.

Matthew 10:30
But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

Psalm 139:4
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

God Is Amazing!

Let us see some some questions:

1. If I know what _______ tastes like, why eat it? Tastes good, enjoyable- maybe healthy?

2. If I know what a song sounds like, why listen? Pleases us, soothes, etc

3. If you as a parent know what your children want, why do we wait for them to ask for it? Something more than just internal desire- there is something external in the request takes my relationship to a deeper level- expressive / vulnerable.

4. If you know I'm thankful, why do I still say "Thank-you"? Gratitude is Expressive- active

5. If my wife knows I love her, why do I still say "I love you"? Husbands- what's the answer? Love is more than a feeling or thought- it must be expressed.

So why pray? There is something we need to learn- something we need to understand and appreciate when it comes to prayer- to grasp!

Jesus discussed the same question when teaching the crowds about prayer - in Matthew 6 - he addresses the issue - how is God going to hear our prayers - how or why should we pray! Will God hear me if we walk down the street or standing up in church? No, in fact- why don't we do this in secret- that really tests our heart and our relationship with God.

But what if we really know how to pray and have beautifully flowing prayers that are just like poetry- float up to God's ears- surely He will be impressed? vs.7 "They think they will be heard..."

Matthew 6:7-8
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Does Jesus stop there- God already knows what your thinking- he'll work? No he continues to teach. This,then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven... "

And so he sets in motion a model and thinking about prayer that was revolutionary for the day- and still is today if we grasp it! So begins what is the heart of prayer, more importantly, WHO is at the heart of our prayer. Prayer takes us to "Our Father"- to our God and instantly takes us from temporary things to eternal. From the earth to heaven itself! Takes us to God and not on ourselves.

So why pray if God already knows? What can we learn from this short little intro to the "Lord's Prayer". Why Pray?

Jesus Did!

* Do we ever wonder why did Jesus pray so much?

Hebrews 5:7-9
7 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

* Why did he get up early-still dark- before everyone else and spend time with God?

Mark 1:35
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

* Why did he burst into prayer after his baptism and heaven opens up- and he hears "You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased."

Luke 3:21-22
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

* Why allow himself to immediately go into the desert to be tempted- which I'm sure he prayed. Why go off to lonely places and pray?

Luke 5:16
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

* Why did he go up on the mountainside to pray all night to God?

Luke 6:12
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

* Why did he pray so focused before he chose the 12? Why so fervently, so desperately in Gethsemane? Dripping blood? Why didn't he pray for certain things? For Peter not to deny, not to be sifted? Why not pray that Judas would not betray him? Why not pray for twelve legions of angels(72,000)? But praise God he didn't- because we would have no salvation, no redemption, and no resurrection!

When he started what we call the "Lords Prayer" he gave the key. "Our Father in heaven..."

When Jesus started what we call the "Lords Prayer" he gave the key. "Our Father in heaven..."

1. To Jesus, Prayer Was A Relationship!

Prayer is not "Google Search"- search engine- out comes answers. Prayer is about a relationship! A father wants to have a relationship with his children- same with God. He wants that relationship. He walked with Adam and Eve; men like Enoch "walked with God"; Moses would speak to God as a man speaks with his friend.

When Jesus prayed, he was with family. He was with his father! Jesus changed the location of prayer! From the temple to the closet. From someplace you go to- to where you are. From a ritual to a relationship. He brought God up close and personal.

Listen/read - Jesus is trying to bring comfort and perspective to his friends- Jn 16:23-27- He wants them/us to understand that they/we can have a relationship with the Father as he does. vs 26 "I'm not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf." No you can do that!

John 16:23-27
23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
25 "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.
26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

What is his prayer in John 17:3 This is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God..."

John 17:3
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

History shows that there is something very cool happening in our relationship with God- Garden--God with a few chosen men--to Israel(but he was in the tabernacle/temple--Silent for years--Jesus(Emmanuel- God with us)-- Holy Spirit(God in us)--eventually Heaven-where we are back with God for all eternity!!! How cool is that.

Jesus cherished his relationship with God. Why did he pray when he knew men's hearts? Why pray when he had the power to heal, to stop the wind and the waves, to raise the dead? Why pray? He needed God- it was a relationship.

Think of any close relationship- our spouse, friends, family- you want to be with them. Go on vacations together, retreats together, enjoy holidays, birthdays, special occasions. That was Jesus.

To Jesus prayer was his retreat- His SPA(Special Prayer Alone) Prayer recharged him when the crowds were pressing him - he could retreat and find peace and vision - he would come from a prayer time with clearer vision and focus(Mk 1:38 Let us go somewhere I can preach...that is why I have come.")

He realized his ultimate home was with his father in heaven...(again the Lord's prayer) and he some day was going home!

But Jesus also learned something very important about prayer that we need to understand too.

2. To Jesus, Prayer Brought Growth and Maturity

Hebrews 5:7-9
7 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

"offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who COULD say him from death...he was heard because of his reverent submission(godly fear)...he learned obedience from what he suffered...'

Prayer is a muscle that needs to be developed. There's no way to grow in prayer except to pray. Jesus himself learned something in prayer. He learned obedience from what he suffered.

Going back to Why Pray If God Already Knows- it's one thing for an infant to cry out what they want- they're hungry, feed me; they're wet and uncomfortable- change me; If that child stays like that- there's something wrong!

But think for a moment about your prayer life- what is it like? God, I'm hungry...wahhh! Feed me! God, I need this...wahhh! Help me! But if I stay like this it is not good. Not healthy.

Hebrews 5:11-6:1
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,

God expects growth.

As a child grows what we do with them/for them changes- sons would work on a puzzle or assembling some toy- we would watch try to put it together- we could intervene. We could put that thing together-may be a lot more peaceful! But We don't, we wait, why? We want them to try to do it - to grow- but we also want to teach the lesson to "Ask for help" We'll gladly help if asked.

A child doesn't say- since my Dad knows everything I won't ask him! A father doesn't sit down and explain everything they know to his child. Same with God.

Luke 11:11-12
11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

God does know how to parent. He knows what we need! As a child grows and matures- so does their understanding of the world- their abilities, the challenges and difficulties. It is our role as parents to help equip or children to function in the world.

There are stages in our growth and development. It is no different spiritually and in relation to prayer.

We have a Childlike/Infancy Stage, where the focus is on what we need or want. But also on the good side, there is this innocence that we have, a childlike faith. That just believes God is going to work. We don't question. We just assume God will work. We need to maintain a childlike heart of faith. But not be childlike/infant in our understanding of prayer and our relationship with God.

There is the Meditative / Late Childhood / Adolescent Stage. We begin to think deeper about God. We move beyond what he can do for us. We begin to think about WHO He is, WHAT He does, HOW he does things, WHY He does things? Filled with questions.

We have some understanding of God. This is where we wrestle. This is either where we will grow or never develop in our prayer life.

This is where Abraham found himself in Genesis 18 God spoke with Abraham face to face. Bible says he "knew" Abraham, speaking of an intimacy / closeness / vulnerability. 18:17 "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" God knew that Abraham was at a different stage in his relationship with Him. He was going to be open about what he was doing. He tells him I am going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because their sin was so grievous.

Let us notice Abraham's response. He has in his mind a picture of what God is like. What he hears doesn't match. Vs.23 God, will you REALLY sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Great question!!! Where we begin to ask deeper, penetrating questions. We're not satisfied with pat answers. Those of us who have or have had teens, how many times do we get asked the why questions? We have to give more than a "because I said so answer". That's healthy, our child is growing up, maturing. It's time for deeper dialogue! This is what Abraham is having with God.

Then he begins to bargain. Teens, ever bargain with their parents? If we do this. God, what if...50 "far be it from you to do such a thing...(he was wrestling with the very character/nature of God). Will not the judge of all the earth do right? Pause for a moment. Let us think about what he is doing with God? (Does God blast him?)

Now that I'm not dead, I'm gonna push it(bold). What if 45? 40? 30? 20? 10? Abraham learned a lot about the heart of God that day. IT WAS A DAY THAT GOD GREW LARGER!

It was a day that Abraham understood "Your will be done". And it is from here that Jesus wrestled. That Jesus "learned obedience". God "COULD" save him from death. God could come up with another plan. He could call 72,00 angels. Once this is learned we have an mature/adult relationship with God! It is here we really speak. We're really open/real.

MOSES, the Israelites are always grumbling(Exodus 32-33) God says "Leave me alone...I am gonna wipe them out. But I'll make you into a great nation. That didn't compute- WHY? This timid, insecure leader is now standing up to God and for his people. No, God- you can't do this. That is growth. That is maturity.

Our prayers must get beyond "Now I lay me down to sleep...." or "God bless my family, my country, my church.. God bless them all, Amen!" It's got to give us a fire in our belly to plead and say and ask bold things of God! We must wrestle with God. His judgement, when was the last time we studied that, HELL. What does that do to our heart? It must lead to intense, bold, personal, heart to heart prayers. Thing is GOD WANTS IT!

What is the result? God speaks with Moses as he would speak with a friend, he sees God's glory. His face is radiant.We want radiant faces from prayer without the effort and energy and boldness that will bring us face to face with God! No pain, no gain!

This is where we wrestle with the "will of God". This is where character is formed. This is also where we grow to understand "NOT MY WILL, but YOURS be done...". We have the maturity to speak and yet surrender wholeheartedly! WE HAVE COURAGE TO FACE LIFE HEAD ON!

Lastly, why pray?

3. To Jesus, Prayer Prepares For Battle

We know how Jesus left his time in Gethsemane. "Rise let us go, here comes my betrayer..." It's a good resolve and conviction! Inspiring.

Jesus faced many battles. Here's one we don't think much about. And if we don't think our prayers matter or count, listen to what is said in Revelation 8:1. Earlier in Revelation 5 there is this great scene of everyone celebrating and praising Jesus, the lamb, mentions bowls of incense which are prayers of the saints, part of this celebration and declaration! Chapter 7 We are those who have washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. And we come to chapter 8:1 "there was silence in heaven for about half an hour". That is an amazing thought, silence, Why?

Revelation 8:1-5
1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.
4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand.
5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

What begins what will be throughout the rest of the book the beginning of this great battle- 7 angles / 7 trumpets declaring / announcing judgement and war! What begins this. PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, CHURCH, THAT IS US! IS PRAYER IMPORTANT TO GOD, TO JESUS, IT PRECLUDES THE BATTLE!


Because Jesus did!

This is the most obvious response we can have, if Jesus did it, then it must be essential. The simple fact that Jesus prayed confirms its worth.

The Son of God was compelled to pray because it made a difference, it could change things- "this can only come out by prayer" (Mk 9). He prayed on different occasions, for different reasons, with the crowds, with the disciples, with a few, and alone- but always with the Father.

Jesus turned to prayer in times of trouble- temptations, approaching death "my heart is troubled", let this cup pass from me", "with loud cries and tears" Heb 5:7.

Jesus relied on prayer for spiritual recharging- at these times he would withdraw to lonely places to pray- Mk 1:35, Lk 5:16, Lk 6:12

His prayers intensified at pivotal moments like choosing the twelve (spent the night praying, Lk 6), on the Mount of Transfiguration, preparing for his crucifixion, (agonizing prayer in the garden, Mt 26), and for his returning home, Jn 17.

Prayer was a lifeline for Jesus, gave him guidance, energy, showed him the Father's will and then he found the strength to do his will.

Prayer was his retreat, his refuge, a reminder of home- no evil, no pain, no sorrow, no death. Prayer sustained him until that journey home.

Jesus knew the potential and limitations of prayer, so he prayed.

And, we also see there were prayers that Jesus didn't pray. He did not pray for Peter to not be sifted, but rather that his faith not fail. Jesus did not pray for Judas to change his mind, but called him "friend" and said "do what you came for."

Nor did he call on the twelve legions of angels at his disposal to come and rescue him- that's 72,000 angels (6000 per legion in the Roman soldier regiment). And praise God for that, or there would have been no cross, no forgiveness, no grace, and no resurrection! Because Jesus chose redemption for us, he chose the Father's will, he also clearly chose his own fate, so to speak. Because Jesus prayed in the garden and surrendered there, he didn't have to pray for the angels.

Jesus knew prayer was the battle itself, because that was where he faced and fought the same spiritual forces of evil at work today.

Just looking at what, how, when, why Jesus prayed, we have a wealth of examples to learn from, imitate, and grow from.

The example of Jesus can show us how prayer works, and why we should pray, and perhaps why God does not intervene in ways we think he should. We do know Jesus commanded his followers to pray, and we also know his miracles are rare exceptions to how the normal laws of nature govern our planet.

We see suffering quite randomly, and even unfair from our perspective, and we do not know exactly all the reasons why, but we can also see that God allows such things to play out rather naturally, respecting human freedom, and working from the ground up, not from his throne down. We see Jesus do the same thing in subjecting himself to the powers at be, rather than exercising any supernatural power from on high.

However, that in no way means that God does not feel the same compassion as Jesus did. As Jesus said to Philip, "if you've seen me, you've seen the Father." The compassion of the Son is one and the same as the Father. God feels every bit the pain of watching children suffer just as any parent would today. He has the same sympathy and compassion, much greater than our capacity to feel it because we are his creation. Even though Satan is yet to be completely bound, he still has limitations. But even more important than that, God has provided resources beyond our awareness, fully available to us, to not only counter his evil, but to transform it through the power of his Son!

Taking all of this into account, we can begin to understand why the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, it was worth imitating. They wanted a part of this 'Abba' thing! By looking more closely at Jesus' prayer life, we can find the answers to "why pray when God already knows."

Why did Jesus pray?

He was in partnership with the Father.

It was the Abba Father that intrigued the disciples to learn how to pray. And the first thing Jesus taught them was to say: Our Father.

It was simply about the relationship with his Dad. Even though Jesus knew that god knows what he needed, what we need, he still wanted the communication, the engagement, with the Father.

Prayer takes us to God and away from ourselves, it takes us from the earthly, temporary place to the heavenly, permanent realm with God.

Prayer is not a google search with God, where out comes all the answers. There's dialogue, conversation, wrestling to understand, expressions of love, disappointment, frustration, anger, dare say even fighting with God until we get it. Jesus shows us that God is family, and he wants our family to commune, talk together. Jesus even shows us that prayer was not limited to the temple, but could be in the desert, on the mountain, in a boat, at a bedside, a gravesite, in a closet- but never for show! Don't be like that, he said (Mt 6:8). Jesus removed prayer from a building in put it in the heart of man where his Spirit lives! Rom 8:26, Spirit intercedes.

Romans 8:26
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

When we pray, we are in partnership with the Godhead, we are in Christ, the Spirit lives in us, and the Father beckons our voice!

Imagine, the creator of the universe, before time began, wants me to walk with him, talk with him, cry with him, laugh with him, wrestle, weep, hold on tight- but never stop talking, communicating. That's worse than a real fight because nothing gets resolved and we stay apart. Jesus knew he wanted nothing to do about separation from the Father. One time was bad enough!