Why Pray?

I’ve been reading Philip Yancey’s excellent book on prayer.  He raises a lot of interesting questions with which I was already wrestling (he thinks a lot like me).  Why pray when God is sovereign?  Either he will take care of the problem that one is worrying about, or he won’t; what will it matter if I pray?  If he does not change, then why pray?  God is going to do what he is going to do whether or not one prays, right?  I could go on, but you get the point; there is a lot of mystery in prayer and in the way God works in this world. 

For my purposes with this blog post, I will recount an event which laid clear for me, not the whole matter of prayer, but my experience of it. I was reading through Yancey’s book and wrestling with the whole matter of prayer and went running down my favorite country road.  Matt was in Afghanistan; I had absolutely no control over what would happen to him, or what danger he would face.  Kelly was in a crisis with a friend; I could do nothing to influence the relationship, it was something that she had to work out on her own.  Dakota was trying to find a full-time job so he could support his wife, as the Scriptures direct him to.  Just then, Badger called.  There was a line of thunderstorms with tornadoes headed directly towards Frisco.  Would I pray?

It was at that moment that the Holy Spirit broke in.  What do you have in all of this, John?  What can you do in your kids’ lives at this moment?  There was literally only one possibility: prayer.  I couldn’t go to Afghanistan for Matt; couldn’t get a job for Dakota; couldn’t resolve Kelly’s relationship problem; couldn’t protect Badger and his family from tornadoes; but I could pray.  And so I did.

However one resolves the mystery of God’s sovereignty and prayer, I could not answer at that moment, but how grateful I was that I could pray.

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