As central as prayer is to the Christian life, there is a great deal of confusion over its purpose. Many believe that prayer is God’s prescribed method of asking Him for things. Others believe that prayer is simply communication with God. Still others believe that prayer is a way to learn God’s will. In reality, prayer is all of these things and none of these things. Prayer is asking God for things, communicating with Him, and a way to learn His will, but it isn’t ONLY any of these. Reducing prayer to any one of these (or any other number of descriptions) misses the most important part of why God has ordained that prayer should be regularly employed by His people. Prayer isn’t for God’s sake, it’s for ours.

A question always seems to surface when the subject of prayer is brought up: Does prayer change anything? I often wonder what people mean when they ask this question. Sometimes when I am asked this question, I respond with another question: “How would you know?” In other words, how can you ever really know—whether you pray or not—if the outcome of a particular situation would have been any different? We don’t get to run events in reverse and apply different variables to see if it changes the end result. We pray, in the first place, not because we want to see things change, but because God has commanded it.

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