A Sunday Night Entry: Why Pray?


I’ve often wondered, If God knows everything that’s going to happen, because it’s going to happen, why pray?

The other day, I heard a really good answer on the pocast of R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries. It essentially was, Well, God knows you’re going to pray about it, and allows you to participate in the process. And on another podcast, to the question, Can our prayer have an effect?, Dr. Sproul reminds us that even Jesus prayed a fervent prayer that his crucifixion wouldn’t happen. If the Son of God thinks that prayer is a good idea, we should probably think it’s a good idea, too. And that sounded pretty cool to me.

The other night as the fam and I were going somewhere, I realized that I was tapping my feet to the music in the car, kinda’ slapping along to the bass line, and feeling really good about it. But why? Terry and the kids certainly didn’t get anything out of my impromptu performance, and I doubt James Taylor did, either, what with his performance being on a CD and all.

But musicians on stage… well, that’s another matter entirely! I have to think that there’s an energy that rises from the crowd to the stage, that the performer really does get something back from the crowd. As the performers play, they feel that vibe and enjoy it, I’m sure. Moreover, the crowd gets to enjoy the show and participate, to a limited extent, in the show itself by inserting into their own minds the rhythms associated with their clapping, tapping, and dancing, playing and performing right along with the performers. Sometimes, they even boo the performer. And unless there’s a bit of improvisation to be done, or unless the playlist isn’t set in advance, the show goes on pretty much as planned.

So I wondered out loud if our praying wasn’t sort of like going to a concert that God gives, where life is the playlist and we’re clapping, tapping, dancing—praying—along to the music. The show is going to go on, so to speak, but God gets that vibe back from us as we pray, and I’m sure He enjoys it. We, too, can enjoy the show more if we participate in it, knowing that God is enjoying our participation. Even when our prayers are prayers of anguish, it’s good to remember that not all songs are happy songs either and that God hears and appreciates our earnest and heartfelt prayers, that the sad songs make Him cry, too.

Anyway, although Dr. Sproul’s answers are just fine, I like to put it into my terms and know that as I say my prayers, God’s up on stage, seeing me in the crowd, feeling what I feel as life is performed, because I am singing, dancing, crying, clapping and tapping through life. And though we certainly know that God has everything planned out from the beginning through the end, I also think we can know that God is really into audience participation.

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