Why do Christians pray?
The short answer is that Christians pray because they have faith.
But since you probably knew that, let me offer a more thorough explanation.
Honestly, there are probably innumerable reasons why Christians pray.
Christianity is a relationship with GOD through Jesus Christ.
Amazingly, the almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe wants a close personal relationship with you and with me. It’s the greatest news ever—not just that He desires this, but that He’s gone to tremendous lengths to make it possible and very much attainable.
All Christians know this.
The sincere ones cherish and take advantage of it. And prayer is a major facilitator.
Here are six specific reasons why Christians pray.
Reason #1: Christians pray because they have faith that GOD loves us and cares for us.
Jesus taught that we should trust GOD’s kindness and provisions.
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
(Luke 12:6-7 NIV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
(Matt. 5:43-45 NIV)
Jesus taught that we shouldn’t worry because GOD knows our needs and will provide for us.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matt. 6:25-34 NIV)
Thus, Christians believe that GOD cares about our concerns and needs and that He will answer us.
Reason #2: Christians pray because they recognize their weakness and great need for GOD.
Jesus was meek, humble and lowly (see Matt. 11:28-30) and so should His disciple be as well.
A biblical Christian recognizes that they are sinners, weak and in desperate need of GOD’s help.
This spiritual brokenness leads us to pray for GOD’s help, mercy and grace. He knows we need it. We know we need it.
Imperfect Christians sometimes get a bad reputation because non-Christians hold Christians to a higher moral standard. There is this false notion in the minds of many people that:
The good person goes to heaven; the bad person goes to hell.
But the true gospel teaches that we are all sinners who repeatedly fall short of GOD’s glory (see Rom. 3:23). There is no one who is morally “good” except GOD (see Matt. 19:16-17).
The Christian knows that, while GOD absolutely wants and expects us to do good deeds (see Jam. 2:14-26), no amount of good deeds can ever take away our sin. We are saved by GOD’s grace through faith.
Thus, the Christian recognizes their great need for GOD.
Reason #3: Christians pray because they believe GOD has helped them before and will again.
Each of us has a personal story—how you got to this moment right now.
For Christians, I’d venture to say that no faithful Christian looks back at their life without recognizing specific times where they needed GOD’s help, prayed for something specific, and then saw things work out. I know I can point to key moments in my life and confidently affirm that GOD answered my prayer.
The Scriptures attest to GOD’s faithfulness and personal experience backs up their claim.
This is not to say that there aren’t Christians who have been tremendously hurt or felt let down because the outcome of a specific situation wasn’t what they had prayed for or hoped would happen.
But faith demands that we trust GOD’s wisdom and character when these situations occur. For the Scripture says:
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Rom. 8:26-39 NIV)
Reason #4: Christians pray to confess their sins to GOD and seek forgiveness.
The apostle John wrote to Christians in the first century:
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:8-10 NIV)
As I mentioned previously, Christians recognize they sin at times and, upon that realization, they go to GOD in prayer, confessing their sin and seeking forgiveness.
Reason #5: Christians pray in order to grow closer to GOD.
The Scriptures are full of promises and examples of individuals who developed a close relationship with GOD. Communication is the foundation of any relationship, and GOD is no different.
Christians pray for their benefit, not GOD’s. He needs nothing.
But GOD wants what is best for us, and it is best for us to be close to Him. For in Him alone is life and abundant blessings—physical, emotional and spiritual.
To the Christian, GOD is beautiful, not just because of what He does and can do for us, but because of His character.
The Christian wants to be like GOD in our character. And this is GOD’s will for each of us too, that we look like Jesus in our thoughts, speech and behavior.
Christians express this desire to GOD in prayer and solicit His help in growing them to become more like Jesus, recognizing specific areas of their own character that need attention.
Reason #6: Christians pray because they believe Jesus mediates on their behalf and He is sympathetic to our struggles.
In the Law of Moses, the Levites were priests to GOD and served as mediators between the Israelites and GOD.
For the Christian, Jesus serves as our eternal high priest, mediating on our behalf before the Father.
The Scripture says:
3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
(Heb. 8:3-6; 9:11-15 NIV)
As the apostle Paul wrote elsewhere:
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people.
(1 Tim. 2:5-6a NIV)
Christians pray because they know that Jesus was tempted in every way just like us, but He didn’t sin (see Heb. 4:15).
So He knows what we’re going through—how difficult it is—and He advocates on our behalf before GOD, just like a good attorney represents their client before the judge.