I pray not because I want to be delivered whenever I have a hardship and only when I have a hardship. I pray not because others tell me to. I pray not because my parents have always prayed before dinner. I pray not because I feel the passionate stirrings of the Holy Spirit in my soul, because I don’t always. I pray not because I think there is a tradeoff—as if God will reward me proportionately to the amount of time I spend on my knees. I pray not even because of the miraculous workings which could befall me and the mysterious benefits and affirmations of faith I could derive from them. I pray not because I’m afraid I will not get into Heaven. I pray not because I live in fear of Hell…I pray not because I am afraid of God, but because I fear God.
I pray because of the terrible slavery to the law of sin and death by which I am bound. I pray because when I look at the state of myself and of the world, there is absolutely nothing else that I can turn to that will produce the changes I seek; that will turn me around and shake me until I am no longer satisfied with my own contributions to lukewarm Christianity. I pray because I want to train my mind, primordially entrenched in the flesh that is death, to instead abide by the Spirit, so that I can submit to the law of God (Romans 8:6). I talk to God in prayer because I want us to be friends, lovers, beer buddies, and brothers. I pray so that my spirit will become God’s Spirit, who will enable me to cry out, “Abba! Father!”
At least, that’s the ideal. However, the reality is that I pray for the wrong things, for the wrong reasons, all the time. Some periods I neglect to pray altogether. Yet through the ups and downs of it all, still I cling to God’s promise that even during those dry spells when my spirit feels parched and I forget how to pray, and even when instead of praying, I quiver in fear of darkness, evil, and uncertainty because I don’t truly understand God’s omnipotence—even then, God will stay by me, God will hear me, and God will teach my spirit gently.
So, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, I will continue to pursue the practice of prayer simply because Christ did. And I do as He did because that is the Way to the redemption of the world and the salvation of man, including you and me. May we devote ourselves to this worthwhile pursuit, so that our faith will be increased by divine joys and burdens, and by the communion with the Holy Trinity which is ours to possess through the power of prayer.