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Any thoughtful person wrestling with prayer asks, “Why pray at all?” Is the basic purpose of prayer to get things from God?
George MacDonald offers this rationale for prayer:
"What if God knows prayer to be the thing we need first and most? What if the main object in God’s idea of prayer is a supplying of our great, our endless need – the need of Himself? ... Communion with God is the one need of the soul beyond all other need. Prayer is the beginning of that communion, of talking with God, a coming-to-one with Him, which is the sole end of prayer, yea, of existence itself."
God wants us for Himself. He desires communion with us. His purpose in prayer is not to make us sit up and beg. He wants us to know Him. Prayer is His method to accomplish that. But sometimes when we pray we concentrate on the gifts in God’s hand and ignore the hand of God Himself. We pray fervently for the new job, or for the return of health. When we gain the prize, we are delighted. And then we have little more to do with God. God’s hand serves only as a way to pay the rent, heal the sickness, or get through the crisis. After the need has been met, the hand itself means little to us. While God in His grace does give good gifts to His children, He offers us more than that. He offers us Himself. Those who are merely satisfied with the trinkets in the Father’s hand miss the best reward of prayer – the reward of communicating and communing with the God of the universe. God has made Himself known through His Son Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and rose again to pay the penalty for our sin. If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, go to Him in prayer – maybe for the first time – confess your sin, and receive the forgiveness you need. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). When you accept Jesus’ salvation, you will beg for that all-important communication with God, which is as essential to your spiritual well-being as breathing is to your physical life.
Adapted from Jesus’ Blueprint for Prayer, © 2002 RBC Ministries – and printed in the introduction of The Upper Room devotional (large print) for April 2011.