I am not sure that there is any one purpose of prayer, however, I think Jesus has given us some very good purposes for prayer in the model prayer that He gave to His disciples (Matt. 6: 9-13). If we take the address of the prayer—“Our Father in heaven”—and the first three petitions—“Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—we will come up with at least five purposes for prayer. These I suggest are the overall purposes for prayer.
- “Our Father…” To better know God as our Father, to know that He loves and cares for us as a father. He wants us to know that we can depend on Him as a good Father, and that we should have no hesitation to ask Him for anything we need.
- “…in heaven.” To experience His greatness. God wants us to pray in such a way that we will experience and appreciate His greatness. As one who dwells in heaven He is far above us and is greater than we can imagine. He is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Yet this great and awesome God loves us and cares for us.
- “Hallowed be Your name.” To hallow His name. God wants us to pray that His name would be hallowed. Hence, it is God’s purpose for prayer that it be used to convince the world that He is different: that He is holy, and that He is a God of love and grace. We can accomplish that purpose in prayer, especially by praying for our own holiness; for when we are different—when our minds and hearts are pure and when we love one another—the world will recognize that we are one of His disciples, and therefore will give glory to God (Matt. 5:16; Jn. 13:35).
- “Your kingdom come.” To bring in His kingdom. God wants us to pray that His kingdom would come into this world. In all the praying we do, our aim should be to bring Christ the King into the hearts of people in this world, that He will rule and reign in them—now and forever (Phil. 2:9-11). Likewise, it is our purpose in prayer to be always asking the Holy Spirit to bring us and keep us under Christ’s rule, that we would be fully satisfied with Him as our King.
- “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” To pray that His will would be accomplished on earth just as it is in heaven. In all our praying, as we pray for the Fatherhood of God, for the greatness of God, for the holiness of God, and for the kingdom of God, overall, we must pray for the will of God—for all things are established by the will of God. If there is any one overall purpose of prayer, this would be it: that the will of God be done in all things—mainly to overcome what is sinful and evil in the world, so that the world would be as heaven. Along these same lines, our purpose in our prayers should always be to bring people in this world to salvation, and that they would be conformed to Christ’s image and would live forever in communion with Him (Read Revelations 21:1-7).
This post is an excerpt from my book Prayer A to Z: A Comprehensive Bible-Based Study of Prayer.