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Why pray?

   My moments of desperate prayer are as clear as if they happened yesterday:

  • Crying to God in my bunkbed at college that my parents would not get divorced for the second time.
  • Begging God to let me have a normal and healthy relationship with my dad.
  • Negotiating singleness with God because I was convinced no good man existed for me.
  • Weeping on the floor of my shower as I tried to understand why God would let me suffer through multiple miscarragies.
  • Questioning why God had put me in a job that experienced so many defeats and turmoil.
  • Struggling with God’s timing of death and disease in my family.
  • Wondering about my purpose in life and what I’m supposed to do next.
  • And, of course, why can’t I eat healthier, exercise better and lose weight?

   Do any of these sound relatable? Do you ever find yourself praying during these crazy, difficult, confusing moments in your life?

   No matter how spiritual or agnostic we consider ourselves, we have all done it — at least once. But why? What causes us to pray – even if it is only in our most desperate moments? Surely this innate urge to pray is not part of evolutionary DNA. So where does it come from? And what is the purpose?

   King Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.”

   God has knit in our innermost being the instinct that we are part of something greater than ourselves, that we possess intrinsic value, and that love and compassion can only exist with a loving and Holy God that transcends the brokenness and imperfections that we create in this world.

   The question then becomes, who is the God we should pray to and seek in our lives? Jesus is like no other god and worth exploring. Jesus is the only one who expects nothing from you -other than to accept His free gift of eternal life — and gives everything. Jesus is the only one who desires an intimate and personal relationship with you rather than a performance checklist for acceptance. Jesus is the only one who will grieve alongside you.

   In the Gospel of John Jesus is told by Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, that Lazarus is sick and dying. Instead of hastening to the side of Lazarus, Jesus delays his visit for two days. Jesus proclaims three times that his intent is to raise Lazarus from the dead so that people would know Jesus was sent by God.

   Interestingly, despite the fact that Jesus knows he is going to bring Lazarus back to life and restore joy to Lazarus’ sisters, Jesus is still moved by deep compassion for the temporary pain and sorrow they must endure, especially since death and sorrow were never His intention for mankind. Scripture states in John 11:34,35:

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  Jesus wept.

   No another god is described like this in history – sharing in our sorrow, full of compassion and love, desiring intimacy with us, walking with us through the good and bad, extending underserved mercy.

   This is why I have prayed to Jesus through divorce, miscarriages, dysfunctional relationships, and job uncertainties. Because no other god listens like Jesus. No other god pursues me like Jesus. No other god cares like Jesus.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

I Peter 5: 6-7