Big Questions from Little Hearts: Prayer and the Almighty God
A common question that children (and even we adults) will sometimes ask when reflecting on God and prayer is “If God knows all things, then why pray?” We might take it a step further as Calvinists would be “If God knows all things, and has determined all things, why pray?” This is not merely an intellectual challenge, but it also has deep spiritual effects as well. If we doubt the value of prayer, we’re likely to enter into a state of prayerlessness and hopelessness.
It is true that God knows all things, he doesn’t discover problems when we bring them to Him in prayer. We can’t surprise Him. It is also true that God in His sovereignty has so determined things such that not a hair can fall from our head without the will of our Father. It would be alarming to think about living in a world without an all-knowing, almighty God! Yet I think there are at least three good reasons why prayer matters with a Great God like we confess.
First, is that God has ordained prayer as a means of how he works in the world. Just as God could have made the world to have light without the sun and yet he uses the sun and the stars to illuminate the sky, so has he chosen to use our prayers as a means of accomplishing his perfect purposes. God orders not just the outcomes of our prayers, but in His love and kindness decreed that He would use our prayers to that end. This should give us great confidence when we pray in faith, not that our
prayers will always be answered in the ways we expect, but their effect will not be lost out into the void.
A second big reason why prayer is still important relates to the first. Prayer is a way that God connects us with other people. There is so much that happens in this life that we have limited ways of helping others through. Prayers are a God ordained way that we can seek to care for another person and bring them to the one who can heal, hear, and help (James 5:16).
The third reason why we should pray is that prayer is not about changing God, but about changing us. Alongside the Word and Sacraments, prayer is a means of grace, that is a way that God grows in our faith, hope and love. When we are praying in a biblical way by faith, the Holy Spirit shapes us and grows us in the image of the Son, meaning that we grow to love the things he loves and to hope even more in God (1 Thessalonians 5:23). It’s in prayer that we grow in greater dependence on God.
I hope this brief exploration of prayer not only equips you to have this conversation with the young hearts in your life, but that it would encourage you to draw near to your Father in heaven. Pray with confidence, pray boldly, pray joyfully, knowing that God values your prayers, uses them and grows you through them.