WHY PRAY? - Dr. John R. Rice
There are most compelling reasons why everybody ought to pray, why prayer ought to be the most regular and continual thing in our lives. Jesus said that men ought to pray. Here we will give some reasons why people should pray.
I. Because God Insistently Commands It in the Bible
The first good reason for doing anything is that God has commanded it. Throughout the Bible are Scriptures with the imperative command to pray.
“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”—Luke 18:1.
This is a statement, not that some men should pray, but that men, mankind, everywhere and in all times, should pray. It is an impelling duty which Jesus taught.
“Pray without ceasing.”—I Thess. 5:17.
Here is a command without any modification by the context. As long as men in any country, in any language, read the Bible, they will read this plain command to pray without ceasing. Not only ought we to pray; we ought to pray all the time!
Prayer should be the continual turning of our hearts to God about everything we need and everything we want until the subconscious mind is continually in touch with God. As a mother in her sleep listens for the cry of her baby, so a Christian’s heart can be attuned to God while he is absorbed in daily duties or even when he sleeps!
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”—Phil. 4:6.
A Christian is to pray literally about everything.
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”—I Tim. 2:1.
We are commanded to pray not only at all times, but for all men.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; “And for me.”—Eph. 6:18, 19.
This passage closes the familiar description of the armor of a Christian, and the final word about how to be strong in the Lord is this command that we are to pray always with all prayer, with all perseverance for all the saints. Notice how many alls there are.
Prayer, then, is a duty expressly commanded for every Christian, all the time, and about everybody and everything. Not to pray is a sin, the sin of disobedience to the plain and often repeated command of God! Lack of prayer is a sin.
Samuel said to the people of Israel, “God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you” (I Sam. 12:23).
Because Prayer Is God’s Way for Christians to Have Fullness of Joy
Christians ought to be happy. Christians ought not to live defeated, unhappy lives, tormented by needs which cannot be met. So God has appointed that Christians can have fullness of joy all the time by having their prayers answered.
In John 16:24 Jesus said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
Imagine, if you will, a child whose father loves him so much that he can come day by day and ask his father for anything he needs. If the child in his ignorance asks for something that would cause him trouble and sorrow, the father very carefully explains and teaches the child what would be best, and then teaches him to ask for something far better than that for which he had intended to ask.
Thus the child has every desire granted and lives in a blessed state of happiness and joy because his father delights to give him the desires of his heart.
And that is what God wants to do for His children, only He can do infinitely more. God can teach His children and lead them by the Holy Spirit to pray for the things that will bring fullness of joy and no curse. “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22).
No father and no husband can give fullness of joy. But thank God, that is just exactly what our heavenly Father says He wants to do for us. He wants to give us all we ask and even help us ask aright. We are to ask and receive so our joy will be full.
A rich, full life for a Christian depends on how much and how he prays. The way to be happy and full of joy is to pray. Prayer is the secret of fullness of joy, and for that reason Christians should pray.
Because “Whosoever Shall Call Upon the Name of the Lord Shall Be Saved”
In Romans 10:13 we are told that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” A lost sinner, then, may pray to God for salvation.
In Luke 18, we see the poor publican beating upon his breast and crying out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” and see him going down to his house justified, saved that very day.
Thus we read the sweet story of the dying thief who turned to Jesus, on the cross beside him, and said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” And we hear the sweet promise of the Savior beside him, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:39–43). So lost sinners have a right to pray, and everyone who genuinely calls on the Lord for salvation will be saved.
Of course, it is made clear in the Bible many, many times that heart faith is the deciding factor in salvation. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” said Paul and Silas to the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31).
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Whosoever believeth in him [God’s only begotten Son] should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16).
Again Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (6:47).
One who puts his trust in Christ is saved, instantly and has everlasting life. So it is clear that no one has to go through a formal prayer in order to be saved.
Faith is a turning in the heart to depend on Christ. And God hears the faintest cry of the heart without a whisper of breath, without a moving of the lips.
But often the trembling steps of faith are taken with more ease when one prays aloud, consciously putting into words his cry for mercy, his dependence. How many sinners have been able to trust the Lord with more assurance when they put into words the plea of the publican’s prayer, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Dear friend, if you who read this are unsaved, feel perfectly free to call on God for mercy and forgiveness,and be assured that God will hear, that He does hear, that He has heard already, when you call on Him for forgiveness and salvation.
Anyone who has faith enough to ask God sincerely for mercy and forgiveness has faith enough to be sure God has heard him, for Jesus said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). And any sinner may claim the sweet promise that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
Beloved brethren, let us pray!
Oh, how many and how weighty are the reasons that Christians should pray!