Why do we ask God for things?


#1

Hey guys, I was wondering if any of you could help me answer a question my boyfriend asked me. He recently lost his Catholic faith and now claims to be an atheist/skeptic :frowning: . He’s trying to find a reason to believe in God again so he’s been asking me some questions. One of them is, “Why should we ask God to give us things?”

He sees it like this. If a person is sick, we ask God to heal that person if it is His will. But if it is His will, won’t it happen whether we ask for it or not? And if it isn’t His will won’t the person stay sick whether we pray or not? So why do we pray for the healing if it has no effect?

I don’t really know how to answer him so any help would be appreciated…


#2

This is the age-old question! Why do we pray???

I asked my priest that question once because I had been praying for something for years, and no answer…at least, not the answer I wanted. My priest said we pray because Jesus told us to. Read Matthew 6 - he gave us the Our Father.

Jesus himself prayed! A lot! Most notably, in the garden of Gethsemane. See Luke 22:41-42 "And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

The purpose of prayer is not to tell God what we desire, because he already knows that. It’s not to try to change his mind, because God does have a plan. The purpose of prayer is to be intimate with God, telling him everything without reservation; and also to be humble, to accept his will above all (“not my will, but thine, be done”). We also pray for one another and ask for others’ prayers because we are a communion of saints. We show our love and concern for each other through our prayers for each other, which brings us closer to each other and God.


#3

Good reading
**
The Catechism of the Catholic Church**

Part Four
Christian Prayer
usccb.org/catechism/text/partfour.htm

II. Prayer of Petition

**2629 **
The vocabulary of supplication in the New Testament is rich in shades of meaning: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, cry out, even "struggle in prayer."102 Its most usual form, because the most spontaneous, is petition: by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.

usccb.org/catechism/text/pt4sect1chpt1art3.htm

**III. Prayer of Intercession

2635 **
Since Abraham, intercession—asking on behalf of another—has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ’s, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.

From the Bible

**Philippians 2:4 **

do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

**Acts 7:60 **

Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.

SAINTS AND INTERCESSORY PRAYER
In Scripture
Scripture Catholic
scripturecatholic.com/saints.html

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
usccb.org/catechism/text/entiretoc1.htm


#4

But can’t we tell God everything and tell Him we accept His will above all without asking Him for things? His problem isn’t really with prayer in general, He just wants to know why we ask for things when it won’t change anything.

I told Him it was to acknowledge God as God and that we are totally dependent on Him, but he wanted to know why we can’t just say, “God, I know you are above all things and I am nothing without you.”

I told him that Jesus tells us in the Bible, “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt. 7:7), but he says he knows Jesus told us to ask for things, but why did He tell us to? What is the purpose?

So is there something that petition does that no other type of prayer does for us?


#5

I see that there are already some good answers so I will only add this.
When Jesus cured the epileptic Child (Matthew 17 14:21) the apostles asked why they couldn’t cure the child. Jesus responded that first there was their lack of faith, and second He states,"However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

The main reason that we should pray for a cure “if it be God’s will” is to demonstrate our subserviance to God and acceptance of His will in our life and the Life of our loved one.

Hope this helps some.

Peace
James


#6

Although you probably already know this, we can definitely pray to God without asking for anything at all. There are four types of prayers:

Adoration (praising God)
Contrition (telling God you are sorry for your sins)
Thanksgiving (thanking God for your blessings)
Supplication (asking God for what you need/want)

(These four types of prayer are easily remembered by the acronym ACTS.)

I found this question on EWTN.com asking a similar question to yours, answered by a priest. Basically, we are placing our petition in God’s hands, and that is all.

It seems to me that petitionary prayer is an exercise in trust in God (that He will take care of us, no matter what the answer to our prayer is).


#7

ARTICLE 3
IN THE AGE OF THE CHURCH

**2623 **
On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered "together in one place."92 While awaiting the Spirit, "all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer."93 The Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls for her everything that Jesus said94 was also to form her in the life of prayer.

I. Blessing and Adoration

2626
Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer: it is an encounter between God and man. In blessing, God’s gift and man’s acceptance of it are united in dialogue with each other. The prayer of blessing is man’s response to God’s gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.

II. Prayer of Petition

2629
The vocabulary of supplication in the New Testament is rich in shades of meaning: ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, cry out, even "struggle in prayer."102 Its most usual form, because the most spontaneous, is petition: by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him.

III. Prayer of Intercession

2634
Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.112 He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."113 The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."114

IV. Prayer of Thanksgiving

2637
Thanksgiving characterizes the prayer of the Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist, reveals and becomes more fully what she is. Indeed, in the work of salvation, Christ sets creation free from sin and death to consecrate it anew and make it return to the Father, for his glory. The thanksgiving of the members of the Body participates in that of their Head.

V. Prayer of Praise

2639
Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God,121 testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the "one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist."122
To read the whole thing click here

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
usccb.org/catechism/text/pt4sect1chpt1art3.htm


#8

Actually that is almost exactly what my boyfriend was asking. Thank you very much for finding that.

And yes, it’s just that petition is the one he is having trouble understanding. He understands why we would give thanks and why we would praise, but he doesn’t understand why we would ask.

Thanks to everyone who has answered. You guys have good answers and the CCC is always good :thumbsup: .

I was also wondering…do you think our asking for things could be a way for God to involve us in His plans for our lives and the lives of others? Like, could that be a reason He wants us to ask?


#9

God’s just waiting for us to ask! He knows we need Him but won’t interfere with our will to go it alone, so to speak. He’ll respond because He’s ordained things that way. When we pray we exercise and demonstrate our faith-our faith that God really IS and that He can and will do anything we ask for that’s good. It’s almost guaranteed that He will answer a sincere prayer for more faith-or love- or patience-or deliverance from sin. And as He does, our faith and love for Him grows. This is the main purpose, I believe, for miracles and answered prayer.


#10

I don’t know why, but this reminded me of the Joke about the fellow who desperately prayed to God to let him win the State Lottery.
Week after week he prayed, but still didn’t win.
Finally he prayed harder than ever, asking God, "Father you know how desperate I am, I wouldn’t ask for this if there was any other way.
Why - o - Why Father, won’t you let me win.

Then He sat quietly for a minute -

Comes a voice from above, “At least meet me halfway. You need to buy a ticket!!”:smiley: :stuck_out_tongue:


#11

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