Our triune God is a communion of holy love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. John 1:1, speaking of the relationship between the Son and the Father, calls the Son “the Word” and says that “the Word was God.” This indicates the sharing of personal communion among the persons of the Trinity, and that sort of sharing involves speaking. The prayers of believers to their heavenly Father through Christ and in the Spirit reflect the eternal speaking within the Godhead, in whose image they were first created and then re-created in regeneration. We pray because we were made to commune with God.
God’s people have been called to prayer from the beginning. In Eden, the Lord walked with and talked to His image bearers. But after they followed Satan’s lies and rebelled against Him, they hid when the Lord showed up. Prayer was, in the most radical way, hindered.
But God made a promise of grace after He announced judgment on the devil, Adam, and Eve. In Genesis 3:15, the Lord promised that the seed of Eve would bruise the head of the serpent. Ultimately, the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Word [made] flesh” (John 1:14), is that seed (Gal. 3:16). All of the Old Testament prepared for His victorious coming to restore the children of Adam to face-to-face fellowship with their Lord, which was the purpose of their creation and could be fulfilled only in their re-creation in and through Christ. After the fall, the Lord did not stop speaking to us.
Thus, His people were to continue talking to Him. And so, throughout the Old Testament we find God speaking to believers and believers speaking to Him in every sort of situation. Enoch walked with God, so he would have spoken frequently to Him. It was the same with Noah and then on down through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve patriarchs of Israel, David, and the prophets.
David, in particular, provided in the book of Psalms a most honest record of the prayers of the saints in their strengths and in their sins, in their joys and in their griefs. The prayers and praises, the confessions of sin, and the joyous declarations of faith from Psalms have informed all branches of the church.
Psalm 27:8 summarizes both sides of prayer: “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.’ ” We pray because God calls us to speak to Him, and believing hearts cannot help but respond—even when we are unsure of what to say. Our prayers are directed by the Holy Spirit so that even when we do not know how to pray, the Spirit echoes within us the intercessions of Christ above (Rom. 8:26–27). Such prayers in Jesus’ name are the forerunners of every blessing. For, generally speaking, with much prayer there is much blessing; with little prayer there is little blessing.
Dr. Douglas F. Kelly is professor of theology emeritus at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is author of several books, including If God Already Knows, Why Pray?