Spiritual Growth and Prayer
John Telgren

Someone one asked the question of why we need to pray to God since he knows all things anyway. If he already knows what I need, why do I need to ask? Other than the obvious answer that we are instructed to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17), I believe the deeper answer is rooted in the nature of God, which raises a similar question.

If Jesus and God are one (John 1:1-14), then why did Jesus spend so much time praying? I used to think it was merely to provide an example for us, since he really didn’t need to pray.

I am convinced now that this conclusion demonstrated my lack of understanding about the nature of God. God is one yet three. I have heard people try to express this as the “microcosm” of love and fellowship that exists within the Godhead.

An example of this fellowship that exists within God himself comes from Luke’s account of Jesus baptism. Notice how God responds.

“Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased (Luke 3:21-22)."

Later, God makes a similar statement on the mount of transfiguration.

"This is My Son, {My} Chosen One; listen to Him (Luke 9:35)!"

There is a difference between saying, “You are my beloved son,” and “This is my beloved Son.” What is the difference? At the baptism, the words were for Jesus. At the mount of transfiguration, the words were for the disciples. God communicates directly to Jesus, “YOU are my beloved son.” Love moved God to express this love. In the same way, love motivates Jesus to pray to God.

In other words, the motivation for Jesus prayer life was not to “get” something from God, but simply because he loved God. Nowhere is this clearer than at the conclusion of Jesus’ prayer in John 17. The answer to the question of, “Why do I need to pray to God since he knows what I need anyway?” is the same answer to the question of “Why did Jesus pray to God if he and God were one?” Our prayer life, like everything else we do, should be motivated by our love for God.

Jesus said the great and foremost commandment is this:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt 22:37)”

Growing in the love of God is central to spiritual growth. It moves us beyond a mere sense of obligation and duty to heart felt love, which is at the core of the nature of God. God is love, therefore we are to love. But you cannot grow in this love without a healthy prayer life any more than you can grow in love for your spouse without ever communicating with each other.

So our challenge is to spend time in prayer to God, not just asking him for things, but to express our heart to him. We need to make prayer a lifestyle, not just a duty.