What good is praying going to do?

[INDENT]What is the point of praying, in the context of petition or asking God for something, when he already knows everything we need?

These last few days, with the horrible tragedy that happened in Paris, there has been much prayer for the victims, their families, and for Paris. All over social media, people post prayers and the need to pray for the victims.

But since God is all-loving, and is much more loving than me or anyone else, infinitely so, then what is the point of praying for the victims and their families? If God already loves them, infinitely so, then won’t He do what He is going to do, without our asking him? For example, if I pray so that God may comfort the Smiths who lost their son, what is the purpose? Does it have no purpose? Wouldn’t God already comfort the Smiths out of his perfect love?

We pray not **for **God but for ourselves. God does not need our prayers but we need to pray to God. He already knows what we want before we want it but we are called to be united with him and the our brothers and sisters through prayer. The Baltimore Catechism states it plainly:
We pray not to remind God or tell Him of what we need, but to acknowledge that He is the Supreme Giver, to adore and worship Him by showing our entire dependence upon Him for every gift to soul or body.
When I pray for those killed in Paris, I unite myself to their suffering and those of their family (in a small small way). I am also called to examine my own conscience as I am called to also pray for the terrorists who killed them. I am reminded through my prayer that God allowed this to happen for a purpose I cannot grasp. My prayer fills me with the knowledge that God cries with us at the horror we inflict on each other, challenges me to help and gives me confidence that evil will never triumph over the cross.

Well we pray from many different reasons: praise, thanksgiving, petition, love.

But of course the one you refer to is petition…why since he already knows what we need and what we want.

For one reason, if we pray for peace before war begins, he may grant our request for peace. If the war has begun, he may grant our request for peace.

However we must be sincere in prayer and ask him but still say “your will be done.” Since we don’t know all the ins and outs, what may look to us as good is really not so good.

But of course you are referring to the latest event in Paris. Well it is over now and a bit late to pray to undo it, but we can pray for those who were hurt by their death, their family and friends. And we too can pray for God to put some obstacles in the way of future acts of this kind. And if our prayer is strong, that God does listen and care, then he will answer us in a way that will help us.

It says in the psalms that in war, we are not dependent on our strong horses for victory, but on God. And this is the spirit in which we must pray and answers the question why we must pray.

+The sweet counsel of . . . God’s Holy Word . . . Sacred :bible1: Scripture . . . is a great place to begin learning about the wonderful channel of grace and power . . . **for the good **. . . which God is able to use that is opened up and becomes active when a soul enters into pra:gopray2:yer with our gracious and merciful **Heavenly Father **. . .

Below are just a few of a . . . vast multitude . . . of Scriptures from the new testament regarding this blessing . . . pray:gopray2:er is an extraordinary gift from our blessed LORD . . .

We are so blessed to have the sweet refuge and blessing of pra:gopray2:yer available to us all in times of both joy and trouble . . .
[INDENT][INDENT]. . . :bible1: . . .
1 Matthew 17:20
But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.

2 Matthew 21:13a
And he saith to them: It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; …

3 Matthew 21:22
And in all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.

4 Mark 9:28
And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

5 Mark 11:17
And he taught, saying to them: Is it not written, My house shall be called the house of prayer to all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves.

6 Mark 12:40
Who devour the houses of widows under the pretence of long prayer: these shall receive greater judgment.

7 Luke 1:13
But the angel said to him: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John:

8 Luke 6:12
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and he passed the whole night in the prayer of God.

9 Luke 19:46
Saying to them: It is written: My house is the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves.

10 Luke 20:47
Who devour the houses of widows, feigning long prayer. These shall receive greater damnation.

11 Luke 22:45
And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.

12 Acts Of Apostles 1:14
All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

13 Acts Of Apostles 3:1
Now Peter and John went up into the temple at the ninth hour of prayer.

14 Acts Of Apostles 6:4
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

15 Acts Of Apostles 10:31
Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thy alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

16 Acts Of Apostles 12:5
Peter therefore was kept in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him.

17 Acts Of Apostles 16:13
And upon the sabbath day, we went forth without the gate by a river side, where it seemed that there was prayer; and sitting down, we spoke to the women that were assembled.

18 Acts Of Apostles 16:16
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain girl, having a pythonical spirit, met us, who brought to her masters much gain by divining.

19 Romans 10:1
Brethren, the will of my heart, indeed, and my prayer to God, is for them unto salvation.

20 Romans 12:12
Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer.

21 1 Corinthians 7:5
Defraud not one another, except, perhaps, by consent, for a time, that you may give yourselves to prayer; and return together again, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency.

22 2 Corinthians 1:11
You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.

23 Ephesians 6:18
By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:

24 Philippians 1:19
For I know that this shall fall out to me unto salvation, through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

25 Philippians 4:6
Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.

26 Colossians 4:2
Be instant in prayer; watching in it with thanksgiving:

27 1 Timothy 4:5
For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

28 James 5:15
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him.

29 James 5:16
Confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much.

30 James 5:17
Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months.

31 3 John 1:2
Dearly beloved, concerning all things I make it my prayer that thou mayest proceed prosperously, and fare well as thy soul doth prosperously.

[/INDENT][/INDENT][RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+

Christ instructs us to comfort those who mourn.
He Himself did this. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Compassion is never wasted.

Jesus and the Apostles ask us to importune, beseech and implore God. One day He will ask us, “Did you care?”

When I am tongue-tied, I say or mutter Our Fathers back-to-back (these days).

A small child points to a cookie jar and grunts. The mother knows exactly what he wants, but she tells the child, “say, 'cookie, please.”

Why does the mother do that? Is it somehow beneficial to the child?

God will want us to pray since this action from us helps Him to act on us or on others. There is a great mystery about how God acts. It seems to me that God has all the power to help us but He will not release it until we ask for it. In other words God allows us great freedom and He will not interfere with that freedom unless He is asked to. This tells us the importance of praying daily to Him. God will not act without us. There is another way God will act and it involves Redemptive Suffering. God will respond to Redemptive Suffering because this type of suffering which acts like a sacrifice moves His Heart to do something. Remember that God needs our prayers, sacrifices and sufferings for Him to act. If God could act without them then He is very stupid because we can ask where the heck is this God? But our Lord is a hidden God who is in need of faith for Him to reveal much more. With the Angels God is the Almighty One who is this great God but to us, to humanity He has humbled Himself to be very vulnerable. He is not as almighty towards us as He was with the Angels. Towards us this God does not give us even knowledge like He did to the Angels. Humanity must learn to acquire faith and to ask for those things which will be good for them. This is how God acts to the world. Why? This is His chosen way for humanity. If God had created humanity like the Angels than He would have dwelt with us as He did with the Angels. The question of this hidden God becomes apparent because of the type of journey we are going through yet faith in this hidden God becomes the key into revealing Him and more important to unleash His incredible graces into the world. The responsibility it seems to be able to unleash His Graces actually falls upon us. To the Angels there was no responsibility for them to unleash His Graces. Do you see the difference here? If God is to be more present into this world than it falls on us to help God to be more present.

These are important questions, especially during such tragedies. But there is much more to prayer than supplication. We need to stay in adoration and praise, especially in the midst of suffering. It is also important to focusing on what still remains for which we can be thankful, because the attitude of gratitude prevents despair.

Supplication and intercession for the suffering enables us to step into the gap for those who are too overwhelmed to pray for themselves. Prayer unites us to them in their suffering. God often waits to act until we ask, because it strengthens our relationship with Him.

Sometimes people who are hurt get angry with God, and separate themselves from His comfort, so our prayers can help them to be open to receive His healing as well.

Not only that, research has proven that people who pray are more mentallly healthy, and that sick people recover faster! In other words, it works! :thumbsup:

I don’t want to be argumentative in light of what happened, but I see a lot of what I would consider trite pleas for prayers (my dog is sick, I applied for a job etc). What do you think the reaction would be if someone asked for prayers for the gunmen?

You consider them trite, I don’t. No offense taken.

What would the reaction be? For a Catholic, it would be to pray for them for it is what we are called to do. In my prayers that night I prayed for both those who were killed and for God to show mercy on those who did it (for God truly only knows the evil that these people were exposed to that would allow them to think that murdering is a way to Heaven). It was not an easy prayer because the human in me that wants revenge is at odds with the Christian in me that God asks to forgive “as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

Praying for and forgiving an enemy is the hardest thing that we are called to do for it goes against everything the world teaches.


Some of you have said God wants us to pray first, and ask, and then he will grant this or that. I understand that God may take our prayers into account from His perspective of the “Eternal Now” where He sees all at once, outside of time. Therefore, he can “pre-ordain” that his will be accomplished through our free choices.

But I am more speaking of the all-loving, omnibenevolent side of God. How can it be that God needs (or wants) us to pray for something good, first, when he is perfect goodness and mercy, and so, as a result, would naturally want and will the most good that can possibly be accomplished. For example, to go back to my example in the original post: What is the point of my praying to God for the Smiths, so that they can be comforted in their loss of a loved one, when God would naturally, already, want the most good for the Smiths? Wouldn’t his all-mercy, all-love nature effect goodness? Wouldn’t God comfort the Smiths in whatever way, without needing our prayers? Even if he doesn’t need our prayers in this sense, it would seem our prayers couldn’t possibly effect greater goodness than God’s own Perfect Love.

Why pray that God will heal your sick grandmother, when, if it is a good thing to do, God would already do that (since he is all good)? Etc.

There is greatness in our own actions towards others when we allow the grace of God to work through us. God works mainly through people. He does not work directly as you would want Him to. The greatness of God is seen through those who allow His grace to penetrate through them into the direction of the world. God does this so that we will be touched by His love through those who had first known Him. Do not expect God to work one on one. That is not His way ar least normally. There is a communion which God is trying to build up and this communion will never know God without the help of others who will show them what love God has. There is exceptions to this but remember there are only exceptions and not the general rule. The general rule of God is this. He will reveal Himself (normally) through the actions of others. So if someone is in need of Him than it is up to us who know Him to be there for these people in order they will have hope and encouragement. God is good as you say but He reveals Himself through us so that this goodness will be seen in the world.


I often know what my children want. I still have them ask me politely for what they want.

God says prayer is powerful, that suffices for me.

It would seem pointless just to pray and do nothing ourselves.

However, if we are going to try and comfort the Smiths, we could then pray that our efforts might be a blessing to the Smiths, and they will feel comforted by our words and actions.

I think God works in a greater way when it is a joint effort, and we also strive to be a part of the solution.

From St. Thomas Aquinas…on why we should pray:

And from St.Thomas Aquinas……… , that the person who prays should approach God Whom he prays: this is signified in the word “prayer,” because prayer is “the raising up of one’s mind to God.”………… We need to pray to God, not in order to make known to Him our needs or desires but that we ourselves may be reminded of the necessity of having recourse to God’s help in these matters…Therefore your question on thanksgiving and blessing God are interrelated, for they ensure that our prayers are heard and answered. On the part of God, His holiness and His greatness is the reason for our confidence in God, for it would be against His very Nature to not help us, and thus we make “a pleading through sacred things” by praising Him in supplication. On the part of the pray-er, it is the acknowledgement and gratitude of God’s love and care for us in the past and present that gives us hope for the future,……… for “through giving thanks for benefits received we merit to receive yet greater benefits” (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Jesus prayed to the Father; and, Jesus taught us to pray. I do not believe Jesus would do something and teach us to do something that was pointless or fruitless.

Jesus taught us that if we ask we shall receive. someone wrote earlier in this thread that our prayers are not meant to affect God, they are meant to affect us and those we for whom we pray. I agree. many people are not disposed to pray, just as many are not disposed to believe. yet, we who do pray and believe can ask God to influence them to re-direct their live toward Him. does He do this anyway? yes, but our prayers are not for naught. they add to our human interactions with God in a positive manner. just as our sins add to our human interactions with God in a negative manner.

we and this physical world are not finished projects. it is not the nature of creation according to what has been revealed for human beings to be static persons that do not change. God did not create a world where our hearts, our wills and our minds are irrelevant to our fate and the fates of others.

  1. God is going to ask us if we cared.

  2. In harder times, He will want us to press into Him not only for our needs but also for others’.

You are right that God has chosen to want/need us to pray. He wants us to be co-creators and participants in His purpose for the world. Prayer unites us with him through intention, will, and perception.

IF you pray, then God has already taken that prayer into account. God lives outside of time. We grapple with that when we look for cause and effect in linear time.

Your prayers DO matter. It is just that from our perspective, God has taken them into account.

Also prayer is a 2-way street. It is not just about asking God of something. During prayer we also listen. Sometimes this is done using classic prayers which contain much wisdom which we have yet to penetrate, sometimes this is done in contemplation, or just silence and waiting, or through study of nature to understand the mind of the creator.

The two-way street means that we are part of the unfolding of creation. We cannot separate ourselves from it and we cannot just say that God already knows all the outcomes. We are a factor. We get a vote. We are part of creation.

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