I think it is natural to assume that prayer is God’s idea. For true prayer is always according to the Word of God—according to His promises and according to how He has taught us to pray.
Some people, however,—those who don’t believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that God is a personal God, and that He has given us personal promises—have arguments that prayer is not really God’s idea. They believe prayer is their own idea. Of course, they don’t have a relationship with God and don’t know God. The bible tells us that since they are a natural man and not a spiritual man, they do not accept anything spiritual—it is all foolishness to them (1 Cor. 2: 14).
So what does the natural man think about prayer? I mean, if he prays, what are his prayers like? If he doesn’t believe in God how does he pray? Well, I don’t really know. But here are three ideas, or three arguments that they may use to say that prayer is not really God’s idea.
1. Prayer is man’s own thought-up way of expressing his need to what he hopes is God. Here the argument is that God doesn’t tell man what to pray or draw him in any way to prayer; it is his own idea. In this view, man is believed to be separate from God and not sustained by God. Thus he believes that most of the time he doesn’t need God, only sometimes. At those times he may pray to God for help, but his prayers are his own idea and in his own words. Note also, in this argument that this person doesn’t have a real, solid belief in God. He just hopes that something or somebody is out there bigger than himself that will offer him some help when he decides that he needs it.
2. Prayer is talking to yourself. Since some believe that they themselves are God (or god), prayer for them is simply talking to self. And I suppose they would say that the more you talk to yourself the more you will be able to form the god within you and thus to see clearly (to be more convinced) that you really are God (or a god), and that you can do anything when you put your mind to it. Thus, in this view, prayer is not the idea of communicating to God in Heaven; it is the idea of talking to the god within.
3. Prayer is man’s way of letting off steam. In this view God may exist, but man doesn’t really pray to Him. Prayers are mainly man’s way of letting off steam, and a way to unburden self. It is really like point two, a self-talk. In this view, however, man doesn’t really think he is a god, he just talks to himself as a form of meditation. I suppose in this view it is believed that the more effort is put into trying to help yourself, the more God will come along beside you and help you to feel good about yourself. Here again, prayer is not God’s idea; it is man’s idea.
These arguments are not documented, compiled from any survey; I just made them up. But since I thought of them, I’m sure someone else did too. And so I’m convinced that these are some of the arguments that some people use, along with many others.
But we who are true Christians know, absolutely, that true prayer is most definitely God’s idea. As a matter of fact, He chose us and appointed us as His fruit bearing servants with the unique privilege of being able to ask for whatever we want and to receive it (Jn. 15:16). Prayer then is not only our privilege but also our appointed calling from the Lord. Yes, prayer is definitely God’s idea.