Day 13

The Purpose of Prayer (1 of 3)

from the Lent 2016 reading plan


Psalm 145:18, Matthew 7:7-11, 1 John 1:7-9, 1 John 5:14-15, James 1:5-8

Our prayers reveal what we want. To know the content of a man’s prayer life is to have a window into that man’s soul, because the things that matter most to us—the things we really live for—will inevitably fill the substance of our prayers.

Realizing this is convicting. Just a glimpse into the gist of my prayers reveals that I am far more interested in myself than I am in God, or anyone else for that matter. It seems my personal ambitions and anxieties take precedent over everything else, and I really want to see that change.

This is why, as I’m writing this, I am asking the Lord to extend the grace of repentance to empty me of me and fill me with Himself. Though I tremble at the thought of what lengths God might need to go in order do that in me, I can pray that prayer with great confidence, knowing God is inclined to answer because it is a prayer according to His will.

The ask-whatever-you-wish promises of prayer in today’s reading can be confusing. Is God like some cosmic Santa Claus in the sky? When I close my eyes and my lips begin to move, should I picture a jolly old man with a white beard writing down my wish list? The short and simple answer is: “No.” Prayer is not climbing up and sitting on the knee of the man in the red suit, but bowing your knees to the will of a holy God who is your loving Father. God loves to give good gifts to His children in prayer, and the best gift He gives is a new heart.

When we strip prayer down to its essence, what we find at the center is wholehearted surrender to God. The goal of prayer is not getting what we request, but relinquishing ourselves to God and resting in the confident hope that whatever God chooses to do will be good and perfect (Romans 12:2).

That’s really what we see on the night Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Collapsing on the ground, sweating great drops of blood, Jesus pours out His heart: “Father, if You are willing, let this cup pass from Me, yet not My will, but Your will be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus’ specific request wasn’t granted, but His prayer was answered. His heart was so resigned to His Father’s will that He regarded His Father’s refusal as the answer to His truest prayer.

So take comfort, brothers, and be bold and persistent. Ask, seek, and knock! Pray until you can say in faith, “Not my will, but your will be done.” Though His answer is sometimes “No,” “No” is still an answer.

Written by Nate Shurden 

Post Comments (23)

23 thoughts on "The Purpose of Prayer (1 of 3)"

  1. Sheriffe Oliver says:

    Actively bring my thoughts to God. If a situation arises and I don’t know the correct decision to make, bring it to the Lord.

  2. Sheriffe Oliver says:

    God is very interested in me. He wants me to consciously include him in my thought processes throughout the day. The reason being, he loves me like a dear father loves his son

  3. Sheriffe Oliver says:

    While we wait for the return of Jesus, I can trust that God will answer my prayers

  4. Sheriffe Oliver says:

    If the creator of the universe loves us so dearly, we should take even more of our concerns, wishes, and dreams to God.

  5. Sheriffe Oliver says:

    I will ask the Lord to rid me of thinking that God can’t be bothered with any of my seemingly minimal issues

  6. Daniel says:

    God is a loving Father who desires to give us good gifts and longing of our hearts.

  7. Daniel says:

    God desires to give us a new and transformed heart, molded by His grace and salvation.

  8. Daniel says:

    As God loves to give these gifts to us, our hearts and desires should be in line with Him.

  9. Daniel says:

    I need to be emptied of myself.
    More. Daily. Continually.

  10. Daniel says:

    Lord, empty me. Take whatever road and any cost is required for this. I surrender now, and I pray you continuously bring me to that place of surrender. I pray that my longings are your longings; that my heart is like yours. Amen.

  11. Bryce says:

    He has my best interests at heart, even better than I do. I am primarily interested in self preservation, but my Good Father is interested in far more.

  12. Bryce says:

    We do just try to protect ourselves all the time don’t we? We’re very shortsighted and selfish. We are destructive and need God’s protection.

  13. Bryce says:

    It teaches me that thankfully, I can have faith and trust God for all of that. I don’t have to try to fight to provide for myself, he’s done so for me.

  14. Patrick Shen says:

    God hears our prayers and he longs to answer with his desires in our hearts.

  15. Patrick Shen says:

    I will spend time to recenter myself and the things I’m praying for. I will seek the fathers voice.

  16. Patrick Shen says:

    As Christians God hears our prayers and knows our heats. The Gospel changes our hearts and in turn changes the things we pray for. No longer are prayers concentrate on our sole happiness but on the things of the kingdom; the heart of The Father, and the well-being of others.

  17. Patrick Shen says:

    We are prone to asking for what we want and less of what he wants. Comfort is a dangerous thing we always seek.

  18. Patrick Shen says:

    Teach me how to pray. Help me to listen, not for my sake but for your glory. Open my eyes to the world around me and the ways I can serve you and those around me. Tech me to trust you and give me place for which I can find peace.

  19. Isaac Jones says:

    God does His perfect will. God desires to see our prayers match His good will, and He desires to give us good gifts from His will. God does not always grant our prayers, but He always answers them. The prayers that align with His will and good nature are more likely to be answered “yes”, because they will be good prayers not based on selfishness and conceit.

  20. Isaac Jones says:

    Man should pray prayers not from selfishness, laziness, or to pit God against those we do not like or want to succeed. We should pray for the leaders of the nations. We should pray for our brothers and sisters. We should pray for the salvation of others. We should pray for our provision. We should pray for our fears. We should pray for our hope. We should pray for our fears. We should praise God. We should pray on a way that isn’t about our selfishness, but the good of us and those around us.

  21. Isaac Jones says:

    God give me a selfless heart in my prayers. May I seek your will and not my own. Forgive me when I fail. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me and the Holy Spirit to cleanse me. Thank you for the Holiness and righteousness you give. May it continue to flow on me with patience and perseverance, and on the rest of the saints for the sake of your great name; amen.

  22. Isaac Jones says:

    God listens to prayers and answers them. Jesus was the answer to many peoples prayers. Jesus is the answer to the secret longing of our hearts. God wants us to come to us. He wants is to know he is there desiring to answer our prayers, but He will not be manipulated like a genie. He is God, every request answered is the decree of a king.

  23. Isaac Jones says:

    I will pray to God my Father and my King.

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