The purpose of prayer cannot be condensed into a single sentence, or even a volume of paragraphs. In one sense, prayer is the human response to an inward need for communion with God. In another sense, it is the weeping of a broken soul, seeking some form of relief from the inner turmoil of an unbearable situation. At times we pray out of pious, egoistic pride. At other times we pray from a broken and contrite heart. Sometimes we seek our own wants, and sometimes we pray for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Confusion Between the Why and the How
In Exodus 14:15, the “LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me?” Adam Clarke, a deceased Methodist theologian, expounds on this passage. “We hear not one word of Moses’ praying,” he says, and then goes on to describe a prayer language that consists of “sighs, tears, and desires.” It is a language unintelligible to men yet it reaches the heart of God. Thus from the mists of human weakness arises the glory of our LORD.
In Jeremiah 12:1-3, we see the clearly articulated prayer of a man in need of understanding and justice. There is no confusion in the message. The words define the exact thoughts and feelings of the prophet. Thus through clarity of mind, we commune with God.
The scriptures are alive with such prayers and answers. The surrounding text defines the purpose. But knowing the reason for a prayer does not explain why Christians pray.
Perhaps you pray because it is commanded in scripture. Perhaps you pray in response to a heart filled with pain and anguish. Maybe you desire personal communion with the only being that can fully understand who and what you are as a person.
But these are the reasons, not the why.
Prayers are a reflection of faith. Whether in weakness or in strength, Christians pray because we “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” (Deuteronomy 7:9).