by Elisabeth Elliot, from Keep a Quiet Heart, p. 111-112

If God is sovereign, and things will be as they are going to be anyway, why bother to pray? There are several reasons. The first is really all we need to know: God has told us to pray. It is a commandment, and if we love Him, we obey His commands.

Second, Jesus prayed. People sometimes say that the only reason for prayer is that we need to be changed. Certainly we do, but that is not the only reason to pray. Jesus did not need to be changed or made more holy by praying. He was communing with His Father. He asked for things. He thanked God. in His Gethsemane prayer, He besought His Father to prevent what was about to take place. He also laid down His own will. 

Third, prayer is a law of the universe. God ordained that certain physical laws should govern the operation of this world. Books simply will not stay put on a table without the operation of the law of gravity. There are spiritual laws as well. Certain things will not happen without the operation of prayer. God could cause books to stay on tables by what theologians call “divine fiat.” Everything we pray for could occur in the same way, but that is not how things were arranged. Pascal, the great French thinker, said that in prayer God gives us “the dignity of causality.”

Bible reading should shape our prayers. Here is a passage from Colossians (3:12-14, PHILLIPS) which hits me between the eyes and shows me very clearly some changes I need God’s help to make:

As God’s picked representatives of the new humanity, purified and beloved of God himself, be merciful in action, kindly in heart, humble in mind. Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you. And, above everything else, be truly loving, for love is the golden chain of all the virtues.