Why should we invest the time and energy into prayer? This was a question taken up by John Piper in his sermon, “Pray Like This: Hallowed Be Your Name,” which he preached on December 30, 2007. Here’s what Pastor John said:
Number one. Because we are told to so many times over and over and over again. Here is a few. James 5:16. Doesn’t God tell us to pray? Pray for one another that you may be healed. How many sicknesses are there in the church because we don’t pray for each other that God would be willing to heal? 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray without ceasing. Luke 22:40. Pray that you may not enter into temptation, that you may not enter into temptation. Luke 18:1. He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Luke 6:28. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who abuse you. You in a rotten situation, getting ripped off, being lied about? Pray, pray, pray for them. Matthew 6:9. Pray like this. Our Father in heaven. That is number one. We pray because dozens of times in the Bible we are told to pray. And God loves us. He wouldn’t tell us to do something that is bad for us. It is good for us.
Number two. We pray because it is a means to the increase of our joy. Now, you might think: Well, that is what we expect you to say. But you expect me to say it because I am a Christian Hedonist. But the case is, I am a Christian Hedonist because of texts like this that blew me away 35 years ago. John 16:24. Until now, Jesus said, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full. Ask. Ask. Because in coming to me as a needy person and depending upon me for everything you need, your joy will be fuller than if you try to get that need met another way. He wants you happy in him and he says: Ask, and your joy will be full.
Number three. Because it is simply a staggeringly awesome privilege. It is simply a staggeringly awesome privilege. Now you have got to think of this. We just must be blown away by this. God runs the world with infinite wisdom. You and I never inform him of anything he doesn’t already know. We never add to his wisdom ever. When we pray we do not improve upon his knowledge about what he should do next. This is really basic. This is who God is. Romans 11:34. Who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has ever given a gift to him that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Nobody ever counseled him. Nobody ever gave anything to him that he didn’t already own. We are never obliging God to act out of his need for us. He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need your prayer. He doesn’t need anything about you. That is the meaning of God. No needs. We have needs. He is the need meter. And how the need meter gets glory is by hearing the prayers of the needy. And it is simply staggering that God would ordain—now get this—that God the sovereign ruler of the universe would ordain that prayers cause things. Prayers cause things to happen that would not happen if you didn’t pray. I wonder if there are any Calvinists out there squirming.
Listen to this. When James 4:2 says: You do not have because you do not ask, that does not mean you would have anyway even if you didn’t ask, because I have got a plan. The verse doesn’t mean the opposite of what it says. It says you have not because you ask not. That means prayer causes things to happen that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t pray, which is why this is a staggeringly glorious privilege to be taken by the sovereign God of the universe who rules all things according to his infinite wisdom and folded into his causality. This is breathtaking. If you do not avail yourself of the privilege of bringing to pass events in the universe that would not take place if you didn’t pray, you are acting like a colossal fool, aren’t you? I am just thinking logically here. If you are offered the privilege of engaging with God in such a way that your request could bring into being things that would not otherwise come into being, not to avail yourself of that privilege is folly of the highest or lowest order. That is why we pray, because beckoning us into our share in the running of the universe.
Amen. That was from John Piper’s sermon, “Pray Like This: Hallowed Be Your Name,” preached on December 30, 2007. We have over 1,200 sermons like this one from John Piper in our archive at desriginGod.org. On Wednesdays we like to dip into the archive to pull out a classic quote for the podcast. I welcome your suggestions. If you have a favorite John Piper sermon clip, please email us the name of the sermon and, if possible, the timestamp of when and where the clip occurs in the audio. Please put the phrase “sermon clip” in the subject line of an email and send it to us at: askpastorjohn@desiringGod.org. … Well how can we prepare for the rapture? Many of you have asked, and Pastor John responds tomorrow on the Ask Pastor John podcast. See you then.