Recently, a question about God and faith has been stirring in my heart, especially amid great tragedy and pain and loss: If he already knows the answer and has decided the outcome, why do we need to pray? I’ve been pressing into God more heavily and attempting to trust him when things don’t make sense.
Many of us end up at a crossroads of faith and confliction. Death just doesn’t compute here on earth. Our souls long for God’s original, perfectly intended design. Death is contrary to our Creator’s first desires for us, and the ache it creates is unmatched.
Loss, by itself, is so tough to comprehend. But what if you’ve been praying for God to bring healing or resolution that never came?
What happens when we don’t get what we asked for?
If he already knows what will happen, then why would God ask us to pray? Is there a fault in our prayer or a flaw in our faith? Is something missing? Or does God just ask us to pray but then withhold anyway? Is He angry? mean? unfair?
Is God even there?
I read my Bible and studied and prayed. I wrestled with the text and why God had decided I needed to read it. Then I went to a meeting, and we discussed this same question: If he already knows the answer, why does God want us to ask him? Why pray? To what end?
I drove home, and that reference engraved in my heart, lit up as though on fire: John 15.
Verses 4 and 5 especially replayed: “Remain in me as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.”
I love the imagery of vines and branches. I love how it speaks to our beings as intended and created specifically for connection to our Savior. These words say to me, “I give life, and I designed you to live in constant connection with me and, through doing so, receive all you need.”
Connection with our Savior.
Isn’t this prayer? Isn’t the opportunity to offer up any and all emotions and requests and decisions and heartache and celebration…to offer up every piece of our hearts and souls to Him… isn’t that the epitome of connection?
“Remain in me.” That simple command reminds me that much in life attempts to draw me away. Often through prayer I am able to set all things aside and cling, to re-enter into connection with God and remain grounded there.
Scripture says those who remain in God, who stay connected—perhaps through prayer—bear fruit. It doesn’t say through this connection they gain a genie who grants every wish of our own will. It tells us the Holy Spirit inside them stirs to bring forth these things that cannot come of our own doing. In Galatians, the fruit of the Spirit is listed as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
I wonder if our call to prayer—even in dark circumstance, times that hurt, situations when the outcome won’t be what we wanted—is ultimately designed, not to bring us to place of avoidance of pain, but rather to provide for us in the pain? If prayer is the vessel that brings us to a place of experiencing a connection to the Spirit and producing those incredibly necessary pieces of fruit for our souls and for others.
Perhaps the reason our heavenly Father calls us to pray even when he already knows that the outcome will be other than what we ask is this: In His great love for us, God knows that when push comes to shove and we experience the brokenness of this fallen world in full force, we will need the presence of His Spirit and the comfort of Him ministering to us.