06 February 2010

Question of the Week: Why Pray?

by Anne Lang Bundy

By Anne Lang Bundy

"Why Pray? If it changes God's mind then he is not sovereign. If it does not change God's mind then it is superfluous."
(from exchristian.net)

sovereign >adjective 1 possessing supreme or ultimate power

superfluous >adjective exceeding what is sufficient or necessary

The fact that God is sovereign means He sets limits on what He allows. It does not mean that He will not share control with us over what He allows. He is a macro-manager who both cares about the details and helps us manage them.

Because He really, really loves us, God genuinely wants the companionship of our cooperation as He accomplishes His will.

Like a mother baking cookies with a four-year old, God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will, He wants us. The beloved child is the whole point of baking cookies in the first place, and we are the whole point of His will. While the mother wisely sets limits on what she allows the child to do, the child is also allowed to make choices like chocolate chip or oatmeal, add or omit nuts.

Prayer can be for things like praise, thanksgiving, or confession of sin to ask forgiveness. Today’s question is about asking God to act in a situation. In this case, prayer is an amazing privilege of being allowed to participate with God as He shapes and applies His will.

"I pray because ...
God always intended to bring humans in on the act without letting them get proud in the process."
— Tom Wright
Here are three things that can happen through the kind of prayer that asks God's intervention:

• By our fellowship with God in prayer, He may be moved to change our circumstances.

• Through fellowship with God in prayer, we better understand His will and accept it.

• The very act of prayer is a humble acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty and our dependence on Him. This opens the doors for us to receive His spiritual gifts, which enable us to both to change ourselves and be able to face our circumstances.

The most profound example of human participation in God’s sovereignty is the creation of life. Our Creator’s will is for humans to reproduce. He put in man and woman the strong desire for each other that leads them to act according to His will. It is the will and physical union of a man and woman which opens the door for new life. But it remains within God’s power to actually create life.

Prayer is the spiritual union between God and humans which opens the door to the creation of spiritual life in our souls. It is anything but superfluous.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." ~ Jesus (John 15:7 NKJV)

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy


  1. Anne,

    I like the way you describe prayer as relationship with our Father ... not for His benefit, but for our benefit ... and out of His love for us.

  2. i am thankful that i can talk to God.

  3. Wonderful Anne. I read this out loud to my husband. We both enjoyed it.

    I am so humbled that the creator of all should care to hear my prayers. What an honor.

  4. Russell,

    I'm not being contentious, but prayer is most certainly for God's benefit. I apologize if I didn't adequately convey that.

    What's amazing to me is that while God does not need humanity to accomplish a task, it is also true that God Needs You and me to be Who He is. Without us, His great mercy and love cannot be made known.

    You and I and everyone else needs to be loved for who we are, not what we do. It is a need we have because we are made in God's image, and He has the same need.

  5. Anne - Do you hear that? ... That's the sound of growth ... :-) That God needs me is a slight shift in my belief.

  6. Anne - It is the next day and I'm still contemplating the notion God needs me.

    Does God want me? Yes. Does God use me? Yes. Does God need me? ... Wouldn't "yes" imply that He is incomplete without me? Maybe ...

  7. Russell, am I hearing that a larger question being answered than "Why Pray" is "How Can God Need Me"?

    Among my favorite quotes is this, especially when put in the context of God's love for us:
    "Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says: 'I need you because I love you.' " ~ Dr. Erich Fromm

    More at Love's Need.

  8. Absolutely a great way to describe it. I honestly had never questioned this thought before, and it was an interesting question!

    I look forward to more of these questions.

  9. Anne - Fromm was a humanist who once wrote a book titled, "Man for Himself."

    That God loves me, wants me, and pursues me, I understand and feel in my bones. But, I suppose how we each define "need," as it pertains to God, is somewhat different ... I have to admit that I am undecided on what God needs or does not need.

    In any case, you teach me, Anne, and cause me to think. Thank you.

  10. Russell,

    I appreciate the background info on Fromm. While I don’t “walk” in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1) who deny the need for God, I don’t mind redeeming their words for the Lord when possible.

    And while I wouldn’t attempt to define exactly or everything that God needs, it is evident in the Bible that much of Who He is finds its fulfillment only through the people He has created and loves, with whom He seeks the fellowship of prayer.

    Keep thinking on all that …

  11. I like your piece on prayer.

    I am trying to remember a scripture that relates that God needs man. Like Russell loves, wants, and pursues, I get. Romans 9:17-24 comes to mind. It relates how God uses man to show His power and the riches of His glory to us. To me it still seems to be a choice of God, not a need. I'm afraid I can't seem to settle on man as a need. Anyway, interesting thought.