Why the heck do we pray?

I used to really dislike praying. I loved talking to God intermittently throughout my day, but I avoided taking time to intentionally pray over situations or people. It’s not because I didn’t have the words to say, or because I didn’t have the desire to see change. I didn’t do it because I didn’t understand why I should. The will of God would happen anyway… right?

Wrong.

It all starts in the beginning, and I mean the very beginning. Genesis 1:26-28.

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.””

Alright, let’s break it doooown.

To be made in the likeness of God is not just to be a little like him. The Hebrew word here is “dmuwth” which means resemblance. When creation looks at us, they see someone that looks like God. It’s like when you meet a child for the first time but you already know their parents, and you’re like “that is definitely their kid.” 

We were also made in God’s image, which is different. The Hebrew word used here is “tselem.” This means representation. In other words, we were made to represent God on earth. The earth still belongs to God, but he uses us to accomplish his will and manage the earth, which connects to the last part.

God told humanity (which is Adam… his name literally means mankind) to rule over the living creatures. The Hebrew word for rule here is “radah,” which is like the royal position of a king. As God’s representation, we have authority over all living things and are to rule them like He would: with compassion and truth. 

So what does this have to do with prayer? Well, let me tell you.

If God made mankind to represent Him on earth and gave mankind the authority over the earth, then God needs us to accomplish His will. Please don’t misunderstand me here. God does not need us because he can’t accomplish his will on his own. He needs us because at the beginning of time he decided to run the world in partnership with humanity. He is always honoring his word. God is so committed to partnering with mankind, that Jesus went and got our authority back after we gave it away when we sinned in the garden. God really likes people. He is willing to let us mess things up, because relationship with us is so important to him. I don’t understand it, but I’m eternally grateful for it.

Prayer is a major way we accomplish God’s will on the earth. I like to think of it this way: When I pray I am actually pulling the will of heaven onto the earth. The will of heaven that would not be on earth unless I, or other believers, prayed for it. And lucky for us, Jesus even told us how to pray. Matthew 6:9-13.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heavenGive us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.””

Everything God speaks has purpose. I trust Jesus didn’t tell us to pray for God’s will for no reason. There are spiritual forces at work all the time, and we have the awesome authority to release angels and God’s hand through our words. Our partnership through prayer is how God moves on the earth, and that my friends, is why we need to pray.

To be clear, it is God’s power, not our own. But we get to use it! Your prayers have POWER. REAL power.

Prayer connects to the topics of spiritual warfare, predestination, the power of the holy spirit, and why there is suffering. This is what I consider to be the foundation of understanding prayer. This topic is really important to me, and I know suggesting that God needs us to accomplish his will can be uncomfortable, so please don’t hesitate to comment any questions or thoughts! Your ideas are welcome and cherished by me.

Warmly, Cas.

PS. I have suggestions on reading material for anyone who wants to know more.

A Life Worth Living

I get a little overwhelmed when people ask me if I’m going to school. My pride takes a hit each time I say no. I see so many of my friends from high school going into their master’s programs, and living seemingly joy filled lives. I imagined that would be me at this point in my life, but I have chosen a very different path.

I had the great pleasure of spending 6 months of my life as a full time missionary in Australia, Europe, and Africa. I learned more about God than I thought possible, I was in constant relationship with others, and I developed myself in hyper speed. It was the most epic experience I’ve ever had, and as many of you know, Kyle and I are going back to do missions for at least two more years.

This is my dear friend Adrienne from YWAM. She’s the bomb.

All that being said, I am still burdened with feeling inadequate in my life path when I get asked about school. I’ve long dreamed of being accomplished and impressive. I am home now for a little while, and God has been asking me to write about Him. It’s been hard to know what to say when I’ve been distracted by this. Lucky for me, God’s got me covered and He finished connecting the dots.

I have no idea if this happens to anyone else, but I go on “purpose” bingers. I find something I’m interested in, and I strap myself into a dopamine rollercoaster as I pursue this interest as if it has been the long lost life purpose I’ve been looking for. I chuckle when I think of all the things I’ve wanted to be in my life. A doctor, a nurse, a conservationist, a counselor, a researcher, blah blah blah, etc etc. In the end though, each of these dopamine rides ends, and I am left sitting in my own disappointment and confusion. The rush never lasts forever.

I see now that’s because nothing, and I mean nothing, matters apart from God. Truly, everything is meaningless.

Now I know this sounds like some really depressing nonsense, but it is the best news you will hear all day, I promise. If you’ve ever read the first few sentences of Ecclesiastes you might have done what I’ve been doing for the past 20 or so years and turned to somewhere in the New Testament to read instead. It seems bleak at first, but I recently stumbled upon the Bible Project’s breakdown of Ecclesiastes and they helped clear the fog quite a bit (you’ll get that joke in a minute here). I encourage you to watch the video below, because the rest of what I share is related to it.

Isn’t that relatable? I have chased the vapor of life so many times. I have spent hours of my life chasing achievement, only to be disappointed when it dissipates into the air as if it were never there. I have tried to be the wisest 20 something year old that ever existed, but again and again I’ve been crushed when I say something ignorant and realize I’ve been chasing dust. I have pursued my “purpose” and been inches away from reaching it when the smoke clears and I see I’ve run miles away from God’s path of peace. THAT is what it means for everything to be meaningless.

So what do we do?

The video goes into this a little bit, but I want to share this with a New Testament perspective as well. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:19-21

I think we do ourselves a disservice when we interpret this as strictly needing to avoid materialism. Yes, that is a valid piece, but it’s deeper than that. If you are busy chasing worldly possessions, you are not building things for the Kingdom of God. This verse is telling us we can build eternal things right now! We can grow his kingdom and impact our eternity right now! We are all eternal beings, and 85 years of life isn’t much compared to forever.

Perhaps the most straightforward thing Jesus ever said was how to impact the Kingdom of God. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.“” -Matthew 28:18-20

This is the last thing Jesus ever said to His disciples. That makes me think it’s kind of a big deal. What people groups create passion in you? What is the who, what, and where of God’s call for you? Open your heart and listen, because you’re not excluded from His commission.

Whew! That was a lot. So let’s wrap it up all pretty. The point of this post isn’t to make you stressed that you’re not doing enough–it is to encourage you to do what matters. I’m not entirely sure what I’m suggesting you do, but I trust your heart is doing that part for me. Let us not forget that Ecclesiastes reminds us to enjoy this magnificent life God has given us.

“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. “

Ecclesiastes 9:7

I’ll leave you with this: When it’s fun, pursue God. When it’s hard, pursue God. When it’s the easiest thing you’ve had to do in a while, pursue God. Your purpose, your hope, your truth is not in your 401k, your status, your abilities. It can be found in nothing but God, because what you do for His Kingdom now is the only thing that will stand for all eternity.

Warmly, Cas.