Why should we pray if God already knows what we need?
Jesus tells us, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8) So why bother asking Him? We know that God wants to bless us with His gifts in answer to our prayers because Jesus said “I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24) The same message is repeated several times in the Gospels. In Mark chapter 10, Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, was brought to Jesus only after he cried out for mercy. Everyone could see that he was blind but Jesus still asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he recovered his sight and followed Jesus.
Should we pray for our personal needs?
The answer is yes, because in doing so, we acknowledge God as our father and friend who cares for us in every aspect of our lives. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) As we see in the story of Bartimaeus, the key condition is that we should pray with faith (James 1:6-7, Matthew 21:22).
Prayer is not about changing God’s mind, but in seeking His will. Jesus gives us an example when He prayed before His Passion, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2611 says, “The prayer of faith consists not only in saying “Lord, Lord,” but in disposing the heart to do the will of the Father. Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.” No prayer ever goes unanswered, but sometimes God knows that what we ask for is not always what is best for us, and so he gives us something better.
We can sometimes think that prayer is just like making a shopping list to ask for things which we may or may not need. But prayer is much more than this. It also involves praising God and thanking Him. St Paul said, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In prayer we can also say sorry for the times that we have let Him down. Most importantly, prayer is the way to develop our personal relationship with God and experience His love. As St Teresa of Calcutta said, “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”