Means of Grace: Prayer (Part 2)
Why should we pray? A simple question. At times, I find myself mindlessly going to pray out of obligation because that is what I should do first thing in the morning. Other times, I can find myself praying because I want something. While there are numerous reasons why we ought to pray, we need to consider the purpose of prayer and motivating factors to pray. The purpose and motivating factors should be connected to the goal of prayer.
One of the goals of prayer, like other Christian activities, is that it transforms us more into the image of Christ. Paul uses his prayer that way in Ephesians 3:14-19—that believers might know the love of Christ and be filled with the fullness of God. Other passages also speak of the power of prayer to transform our spiritual lives. Consider Hebrews 4:14-16:
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
The context of this passage is faithfulness in salvation and the reward of rest for those who are truly God’s people. How is faithfulness accomplished? By holding fast to our confession of faith; that is, holding fast to the gospel. We are empowered to do this because of the Person who has secured salvation: Jesus, the Son of God. He is our sympathetic high priest. One of the primary duties of a priest is to mediate between God the Father and man. It is a believer’s position in Christ that allows him or her to approach God. We can have complete confidence in approaching God! There is no need for wishful thinking; if we pray according to His will, He will hear us (1 John 5:13-15)! To remain faithful in Christ, we need grace and mercy. This passage promises us that by approaching God by grace through faith, we will receive transforming grace to remain faithful and overcome specific sins.
What is your motivating factor to pray? It cannot be to earn favor with God or merely out of some sense of Christian duty. We should pray because God has set aside this Christian activity to provide us grace that we might grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.