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Catechism Class LD45A, Q116, Why Do We Need to Pray?


Catechism Class: Lord’s Day 45A

Why Do We Need to Pray?

Read Matthew 6:5-15. 

In Lord’s Day 45 the catechist is still dealing with our grateful response to our salvation.  When we enter a relationship with someone it is natural that we communicate with them.  Of course, everyone is different, some people are more ‘chatty’ than others andI suspect that the same applies to prayer.  As Christians, though, we will want to communicate with the One who created us and who saved us, regardless of how verbose or how verbal we are for prayer is a natural reaction to our salvation.  If we appreciate what the Lord has done for us, we will want to tell him so, and want to express that in words.  The catechist is going to challenge us with three questions.  ‘Why should we pray?’  Q116, ‘How does God want us to pray?’ Q117 and ‘What should we pray about?’  Q118. In this lesson, we’ll deal with the first of those issues.  Why does God want us to pray?

Q116 Why is prayer necessary for Christians?  Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness which God requires of us. Moreover, God will give his grace and the Holy Spirit only to those who constantly and with heartfelt longing ask him for these gifts and thank him for them. 

Now you may think that this is an unnecessary question!  Of course Christians should pray, after all, we are to bring our troubles and our needs to the Lord. Psalm 50:15 Remember that God doesn’t need our prayers in order to enact his sovereign will. God is sovereign, and that his plan has been ordained from eternity past and is being worked out in accordance with his will. 

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There is nothing that will happen that God has not foreordained. And we know that God is our Father, and he loves us and what’s the best for us, and we don’t even need to ask him for that.  After all, he sent his Son to be our Saviour long before we could ask him to do that.  Romans 8:32  So WHY do we need to ask then?  Why do we need to pray?  

5 The LORD our God is kind and full of grace;
Both righteous and compassionate is he.
6 The LORD protects all those of childlike faith;
When I was in great need, he rescued me.

7 Rest, O my soul; God has been good to you—
8 For you, O LORD, have saved my soul from death,
My feet from stumbling and my eyes from tears,
9 That I may live for you while I have breath.

12 How can I thank the LORD for all he’s done?
13 With gratitude salvation’s cup I’ll raise;
14 I’ll call upon his name, and will fulfil
My vows to him before his people’s face.

So there are three main reasons why a Christian should pray:

  • Because prayer is a mark of our gratitude to God.  Psalm 116:12-13 The catechist has spent several chapters dealing with the importance of our obedience, but prayer is even more important that that!  We need to talk to God to tell him how much he means to us, to thank him for his unearned love for us.  This is a real privilege for us.  Only the true believer can pray, and find that those prayers are acceptable to God.  John 9:31.  That’s because we pray in Jesus’ name, not pleading any merit of our own.  We have been granted, in our salvation, free access to God, so that we can thank him for saving our never-dying souls.  1 Thess. 5:16  
  • Because prayer is a means of Christian growth.  Prayer is of great benefit to us.  God has specifically ordained that through prayer, we will grow.  The catechist expresses this by saying, Moreover, God will give his grace and the Holy Spirit only to those who constantly and with heartfelt longing ask him for these gifts and thank him for themMatthew 7:7-8   Let’s think for a minute about these two requirements of Christian life:-
    • To grow as believers we need more grace, the patient, forgiving love of God.  That’s why we need to constantly live a repentant life, a life of self examination and prayer, bring our sins and failures and shortcomings before the Lord and seeking his forgiveness – DAILY.  Every day we must pray, forgive us our trespasses…  Not just at conversion, but until we reach heaven and are made perfect, as Christ is perfect.  We need PRAYER to do that.
    • To grow as believers we need the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. God is doing a sanctifying work in every true believer. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 35), sanctification is “the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.  
  • Because prayer brings Glory to Almighty God.  Let’s return to Psalm 50:15 The catechist doesn’t actually mention this, but we do need to include it.  For example, when we thank God for our food, we acknowledge that He is the giver, and He alone, and we give him the glory as the God who always provides for us.  When we learn the lesson that God always answers our prayers, we learn to trust him more, and our thankfulness to toward him grows even more.  James 1:17  

So we have these three reasons for prayer, reasons that God himself ordains for us in his word, and we are to pursue these ends with constant asking, heartfelt longing and ever growing thankfulness.

In our next lesson, Q117, we shall see how we must pray, the attitude that we will have in prayer to please God, to express our thankfulness, to ask him for more grace and more of his Holy Spirit, and glorify his blessed Name.  

© BobMcEvoy December 2020

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