What is prayer? Jesus compared prayer to a child speaking to his father when He said,
“‘In this manner, therefore pray; “Our Father…”‘” (Matthew 6:9). Our Father in heaven
has spoken to us by sending His Son to die for us and continues to speak to us in His
Word, in Baptism, and Communion. In asking us to pray, He asks that we speak to Him.
As a child asks things of his father because he knows he can help him, so we pray to God
because we know He can do all things. Thus we believe that prayer is also worship,
because by it we acknowledge God’s power and love, and thank Him for what He has
done for us.

Why do so many prayers end, “we ask this in Jesus’ name”? The use of Jesus’ name
is not a lucky charm or magic phrase that makes God give us whatever we want. Rather,
we pray “in Jesus’ name” because we believe that He came to earth as a man, lived the
perfect life we couldn’t live, and died for our sins on the cross. Believing that Jesus did
those things for us makes us children of God and allows us to approach God as our

Why does God answer prayer? In writing about the Lord’s Prayer, Martin Luther
reminds us that “we are worthy of none of the things for which we ask, neither have we
deserved it. But we pray that He would give us everything by grace.” The same grace He
showed in sending His Son, in whose name we now pray. “Prayer relies on the mercy of
God when we believe that we are heard because of Christ, as He Himself says, ‘Whatever
you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.’ In My name, He says, because without
the High Priest we cannot draw near to the Father.”

Why don’t I always get what I pray for? As Christians, we are to pray for those things
which honor God and are for the good of ourselves and our neighbor. An example of this
would be praying that God would bless those in authority over us. Like a good father,
God never ignores His children. He has assured us that He hears our prayers and
responds to them. Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “‘If you then, being evil, know
how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give
good things to those who ask Him!'” (Mather 7:11) God is a Father who gives us only
what is best for us. Yet Christians are still sinners, and so our desires and prayers are
tainted by our sin. Thus we pray that God’s will be done, knowing that He will answer
our prayers in the best way. This may mean God will answer our prayer with a “No.” He
may give us something better than what we prayed. He may give us what we ask, only in
a way or at a time we did not expect. God does answer prayer!

(All Scripture references are from the New King James Version)