By Kathy Johnston
I believe the greatest purpose of prayer is to develop intimacy with God. The more time we spend with him, the more like him we become. We begin to think like him, talk like him and act like him. Eventually, if we are submitted to Him as Lord, his will begins to overwhelm ours…we desire what he wants more than what we want. This enables us to pray more effectively for the things God wants to do here on this earth to fulfill his purposes. We become people who are willing to stand in the gap for the work that God wants to do on this earth, and we begin to have more clarity about who and what to pray for. Our hearts become in tune with his will and his ways, because we have spent much time communing with him through our time in his Word and in conversation with him.
When my husband first heard about me, I was living over 2000 miles away. But he was determined to get to know me, so he sought out ways he could begin to develop a relationship with me. This was way before FaceTime, Skype, texting or emails! He hadn’t even seen a picture of me! So in his determination to know me, he began writing letters. Soon we both were writing back and forth to each other and spending many hours on the phone. By the time I moved from Illinois to Oregon, we had been communicating this way for almost 2 months. When we actually met face to face for the first time, we felt like we knew each other already!
When we want get to know someone, we spend time with them…we share dreams, struggles, frustrations, hopes and celebrations with one another. Sometimes we are listening and sometimes we are speaking. It’s back and forth, each sharing our hearts with one another. Can you imagine if when Jonathan would call me, he would just start talking the whole time and I just sat there and said nothing? That would’ve been awkward and I think I can say pretty confidently our friendship would not have gone very far!
But isn’t that kind of what we do with God sometimes? Do you do all the talking when you pray, listing all your cares, concerns and requests but never waiting or expecting to hear from him or hear his heart about what you have shared with him?
Or maybe you spend lots of time studying the Bible, so you can know more about God. But do you stop to listen to his heart through the pages of the Book? You may know lots of facts about the Word and about God…but is it possible you don’t really know him…because you aren’t really listening to his heart?
God created us to have communion with him. He desires relationship with his people. We see this throughout all of God’s word. He created us to communicate with him, to be dependent on him for everything. How can this ever happen if we never converse with him?
Jesus gave us such a beautiful example of how to pray during his time here on earth. He made prayer a priority! He was often found going off by himself to pray to the Father. He knew he needed communion with the Father. And he clearly stated that he did nothing apart from the Father’s will.
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 6:38
” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” John 5:19
If Jesus was that dependent on the Father for everything, so tuned into his heart…seeking his face every day…why in the world do we live like we don’t need the same?
The first and greatest purpose for prayer, is to develop intimacy with God. It’s about intimate relationship with the God of the Universe. Jeremiah 31:33-34 says “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “know the Lord”, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
We pray to Him because we want to know him and want our hearts to be in sync with his. We don’t pray to get what we want, but we pray for what he wants. We don’t pray to convince him to change his mind, but we pray for him to change our minds to be conformed to his will.
As we become more submitted to his will, we begin to pray and stand in the gap for other people and situations…praying according to his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. What an incredible privilege it is to partner with God to fulfill his purpose!
As someone very wisely said, “Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks our wisdom, but trembles when he sees the weakest saint on his knees.”
Our prayers draw us closer to God and in the end, is God’s appointed way of doing God’s work here on earth.