Why do we need to pray?

Someone asked me… if God cares infinitely for every soul, then what does our prayer for one another add or what’s it’s purpose?

This is a good question. I would start by saying that we can care for someone and yet not wish to do everything for them or without their participation because we might have a higher and better purpose than simply caring for people. We do this with children or even students all the time, because we know that it is by participation that they will become mature. A world in which mankind had no part to play in the will of God would be one in which we were merely animals, but we are called to be Stewards, and we are called to bear the image of God in the world, and be the living connection between the Divine and the Created, bearing a spark of the divine life in ourselves by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

God knows all things, and sees all things, and all things are according to his purpose, but he has made us to be his ambassadors in the created order, and to manifest his own life and light and love in our human experience as the true and abundant life he intends and intended. Therefore we pray as our participation in the divine activity, and there is a sense, I believe, that God does not act until we call him into a situation, and with earnestness and urgency, so that in humility he allows us to be the ones who move him, not through any need in himself but in his desire for us to grow into maturity and fulfill our own purpose.

More than that, prayer is not offering words to God as if he was distant, but true prayer of the Heart is itself already communion with God. To pray in the Heart is to enter the divine presence. We are to pray because this is how we grow into union and communion with God. We are to pray unceasingly because the divine life is offered us as our own life, not as an optional extra but as life and breath. Indeed the Holy Spirit was “breathed” into Adam and Eve in the beginning, and Christ renewed this when he “breathed” on the Apostles. This union of our own life, our own breath, with the divine Spirit in unceasing prayer is the very meaning of the Christian life and of becoming truly human.

And in this communion with God we discover and are called to the experience of Communion, of Koinonia, with all others in the Church, and even in the whole family of mankind. It is this communion in which we increasingly participate, that leads us to pray increasingly for the needs of others, not as if God does not know, but because this burden of care which grows in us and overwhelms us in the divine love is what is making us truly human, truly Christian, truly spiritual. We need to pray for others. It is changing us. It is changing others as we invite God into a situation.

Indeed we discover that our prayer is increasingly (I keep saying that word because it is an experience of growth and maturity, through effort and perseverance in the grace of God) the experience of the love of God himself. We are praying, we discover. with and in the love of God, so that God is praying in us, by the Holy Spirit. God is not separated from us in our prayer as if we were imploring a distant and disinterested deity, but be is transforming and transfiguring us in his own love so that we ourselves are moved with his compassion and pray unceasingly for that which the divine love already desires.

What does it add? So much in every necessary way. Because God does not desire only that we be the objects of his care. Nor even does he desire that we be moved by love to pray for others to this God who is elsewhere. But he himself wishes to fill mankind, his own creation, with his divine life and love, so that we become sharers with him, participating by grace and love, in his own life and love towards all that he has made. It is in prayer, with much effort at the beginning, that we enter into an experience of communion with God where this becomes our living and lasting experience.

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