Why Pray When God Already Knows? Questioning the Why

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A journey in thought on the question “why pray when God already knows”. A presentation by Emmie Nyoni.

Relational versus transactional: What texture is your prayer culture? Download

Alternatively you can read the transcript below (7 minutes read)

Why Pray When God Already Knows? Questioning the Why

The Million Dollar Question


This is one of the many million dollar questions regarding prayer that people ask or lack enough courage to ask. If God is all knowing, He has the past, present and future clearly set in His undimmed view so why pray when He already knows? When we begin to probe the import of this question it will dawn immediately that there are two red flags with this line of questioning: 1. The question “Why pray when God Knows” stems from a misconception about the object and purpose of prayer. The question streams from a misconception that prayer is a process of disseminating information or breaking news to God. Not quite. Prayer is the opening of the heart as friend relates to a friend. Think of this: we greet our loved ones and those in our spheres of life and communicate certain things they already know almost daily. We wish or greet them “good morning”, “good night” or just ping them just to banter on anything really. This normally takes place when, judging by the nature and health of our relations with our loved ones; it may be crystal clear we have their best interests at heart and vice versa. Why then do we keep in touch with them and continue to seem to rehash the things they know already? The reason is that we have a relationship with them. 2. Secondly, the question as to why we pray when God knows also stems from a transactional concept of prayer where: rather than viewing prayer as an inalienable part of a relationship, prayer is viewed as a mere mode of transmitting information and dispatching requests.

Transactional Versus Relational

Take a look around your life, check your call history on your phone, check the chats and conversations in your Whatsapp, Facebook etc: There are many people we are in constant healthy relationships with. We communicate with these people regularly and some even daily. From most of them we have never asked for anything neither are we nurturing our relationships with them strategically to position ourselves for a big ask. The close people we keep and continue to relate intimately with are people we have deep relationships with: Notably; our communication with them is healthy and vibrant without any strings attached. God is our sole provider and we are invited to present all our requests to Him as we can never weary Him or ask too much of the Lord. Notwithstanding; take time to Introspect on your communication premise with God and deal with this question: is your prayer culture relational or transactional? Jesus demonstrated a radical paradigm of prayer in the Gethsemane experience. Before His crucifixion Jesus prayed that God would taken away the heavy cup He had to bear. He prayed three times about this issue. Mathew: 26 36-44 Here is a profound biggie. In the first prayer Jesus was making a request: Matt: 26:39 39: And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. However the last 2 prayers about the very same issue Jesus was no longer requesting as it were, but simply submitting and relating. Verse 42,44 42: He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

Christ immersed Himself in deep prayerfulness with no intention to ask for anything

Picture this. Jesus is about to face an ignominious death that He clearly dreaded. He was clearly overwhelmed and He did not seek to hide this from the Father. What is more striking is that He commits the last two prayers just to say; in other words, “You know what Dad, if I got to do this, then I will do it to the satisfaction of your will”. He had to go to His prayer spot, kneel, close his eyes and address His Father just to convey His submission and his mental disposition: TWICE. Twice Christ immersed Himself in deep prayerfulness with no intention to ask for anything. I don’t know about you, but I could spend the whole day trying to assimilate the implications of this fact. The prayer point of His last 2 prayers was simply to relate not to transact. The all knowing God already knew Christ would do it, Jesus also knew that His Father knows everything including His renewed commitment to pay the ultimate price, but He took time to pray: not merely to transmit information but to relate. How often do we wake up and go to our prayer closets just to say “Good morning God”. How often do we take a day to pray and fast just to spend quality time with God, chatting, unloading, asking rhetoric questions, as a friend relates to a friend, without seeking to arm twist God or to win His favour over some big blessing we are angling Him for?

Our Regrettable Relational Poverty

A thoughtful and prayerful consideration of Jesus’ prayer life will challenge our Christian stations. If God dealt with us according to the logical consequences of our relational poverty we would be doomed.

May we be challenged to seek Him: not because He is lost but because we are.

May we be challenged to call upon His name not so that He can hear us but so that we can hear Him.

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