Contact Us

If G-d Knows Best, What's the Point of Prayer?

If G-d Knows Best, What's the Point of Prayer?

 Email

Question:

I'm a bit confused about the idea of praying to G‑d to help us in a certain situation or provide us with something. If G‑d has made a person's situation a certain way, then He wants it to be this way. He knows this is good for that person. So then, why should a person pray for the situation to change?

Answer

Yes, the whole concept of praying is confusing. We trust in G‑d that He is good and does everything for the good. We believe that He has perfect knowledge of everything and that everything is under His control. And we ask him to change things and make them good. Yes, it seems a contradiction.

So think of it like this: G‑d wants people to pray to Him. Something like a parent wants a child to pick up the phone and say,"Hi, Mom and Dad." More than that, He wants things to progress in His world through mutual consultation. He wants that we should be involved in understanding what's good for us and bringing it about — no matter how much better His own understanding and ability is than our understanding and ability.

That's what prayer is all about: Communion between you and G‑d. Think of prayer as G‑d talking to Himself — through you. In prayer, you and G‑d are one.

So ask for everything you need. But keep in mind Who it is that you are asking. And ask yourself what you are doing in return. What kind of a partner are you?

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
23 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Michele Fiore WOODBRIDGE October 24, 2017

I think G-d should be on your mind in everything you do. Prayer (formal or informal) is absolutely essential to a relationship with G-d. With regards to If G-d Knows Best, I think there is something deeper behind free will and destiny. It could never be G-d's desire that we disobey his commandments, yet he has given us freedom to choose. Sometimes someone else's choice may result in our pain or loss. I suppose one can say it was G-d's intention, but only because he granted free will to the offender. The point of prayer is to live in mindfulness and direction. We are not puppets, nor Hashem a Puppet Master. You have purpose and you have freedom. Anything else would lead to indifference and hopelessness. Reply

carol MODESTO September 19, 2017

If we could understand G-d,He would be very small indeed.
God tells us to pray and that is reason enough. If we have to understand every aspect of it we would never pray.
Yes the G-d of the universe wants to commune with His creation.
If we could understand everything about Him He would not be worth worshipping. Reply

Jonathan South Africa February 24, 2016

G-d hears G-d hears, sees, and feels all. G-d hears our voice wherever we are, and we are unable to flee to a place where G-d does not hear any sound we might make. The next question is,
What is "G-d's" language?
I am sure that this does not refer to any of the languages that we humans speak.
Does this refer to the way prayers are written in the Siddur?
And is it necessary for one to pray (talk) to G-d in this way? Surely not? Reply

Anonymous November 20, 2014

Why is Prayer like G-d talking to Himself? Reply

Gabe Canada November 9, 2014

Purpose of prayer What makes you think you know what God, if there is one, wants? Isn't God supposed to be inscrutable? Good story though. Reply

Anonymous Las vegas, Nevada June 3, 2013

Hello Mother, Hello Father Anthropomorphism is alive and well, the spiritual all powerful omniscient, omnipresent Almighty is reduced once again to the very human often imperfect role of parent who is waiting eagerly for that text or phone call and somehow I as a very imperfect mother and grandmother can now understand the concept of prayer a little bit better shehechayanu as thank you and shma as hello. I enjoyed this morning reading thank you. Reply

John Sague In my Mothers womb December 6, 2012

Do not ask God for anything. God might say no and then you will feel upset that you did not get what you wanted. Just live day by day and reach out for the crumbs and be thankful each day that you are alive. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA June 28, 2011

I believe prayer is mostly for our own selves. In that we talk, commune, and tell our agonies to G'd EITHER in words or feelings or thoughts or quiet meditation, we are actually strengthening ourselves. Why? Because the closer we are to realizing the G-d who is within us and being with His presence within, the stronger we are to face the calamities of life. Sometimes, the printed out, scripted prayers said while in the community of other people praying at the same time makes you feel connected to the PEOPLE, but I don't believe that Go-d likes those type of prayers BETTER than private communication. Again, if it gives us strength to face life and gives us a sense of purpose in life, then it is all for good. It is NOT about the end result of "getting" prayers answered. It's about the process itself. Reply

Robin Mitra Lucknow, India June 28, 2011

Prayers As we sow, so shall we reap. If today I am down in the dumps, my past karma has been so sinful that I am now suffering its reactions. Where does the will of God come here? God, to my mind, is only the referee in the game of cosmos. He just is the judge. He does not will us good or bad. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA April 21, 2011

My feelings about prayer... Inasmuch as it is viewed as turning inward to commune with the strength, love, support and encouragement of G-d within ourselves, it is very highly useful, and to be desired not just by G-d as a parent, but also to us as being vulnerable to the winds of agony around us. However, there are two instances when I think it is not beneficial. First is when it is used to show others how pious we are, as in showing off. Second is when we use it to run from reality or use it to deny a situation. I had a friend whose son had a heart attack at a young age, and she called all her friends in the church (she was Christian), to come to the hospital to pray with her to ask G-d to heal him, and when he died, she stayed all night asking G-d to bring him back to life. After all, she said, her scriptures said if you ask G-d using the name of J.C., he will do ANYTHING you ask. So, prayer is both good and helpful as well as non-productive. It all depends why we pray. Reply

Morton Bodanis Montreal, Canada October 18, 2008

If G-d knows best . . . . . Maybe He does have control over everything. But does He exert control over anything? In the Garden of Eden, when He gave us free will, did he not cease to control everything we do or experience? If this is so, then there is much validity in prayer because he just may heed our prayer and intervene again and exert control, or He may not. Reply

Craig September 28, 2008

G-d hears G-d hears, sees, and feels all. G-d hears our voice wherever we are, and we are unable to flee to a place where G-d does not hear any sound we might make. The next question is, "Why doesn't G-d always listen?" Perhaps, you weren't speaking His language. Reply

Michele F. September 25, 2008

Re: Prayer Perhaps prayer is necessary so that we may remain or retain humility. Reply

Anonymous September 25, 2008

why pray . . . . thanks for the added clarity. it will greatly enhance the experience.

shana tova Reply

yeshayahu holt jacksonville, fl September 25, 2008

Does G-D answer our prayers i am confused to why when we pray for things we need G-d seems to have a deaf ear. we live our life by his laws and yet again the prayers go unanswered. people loosing their jobs, homes and financial investments. is this the will of G-D? i just can not understand how G-D would let these things happen to good and observat people. Reply

May Millar Edinburgh, Scotland September 23, 2008

Prayer for others who protect us from danger I have read all of this article and it gives good answers to the question of "why it is necessary to pray". Our "Heavenly Father" is always available to us all, as He is, of course "The Giver of All Life". I spend, at lease one hour daily, in prayer and meditation, firstly just to thank him, for what he has given to me and mine and most importantly, to pray for those brave people, in our "Armed Forces", who would lay down their lives just to protect us from our ememies. We must never take them for granted and they deserve our prayers and absolute support. The soldiers in "The Israeli Army" are especially courageous, as in the past, and now in the present, have fought bravely to regain and retain our God-given, promised land. Reply

Anonymous Elizabeth, New Jersey September 22, 2008

Prayer I think there is a difference if your prayer is like a ritual or something that definitely comes from your heart, a broken heart, Like David, he has many sins but his gift was that he knew how to repent and that came from the bottom of his heart.

G-d is G-d and I believe that He want us to get closer to Him throughout the prayer, and the need comes for that, without need we never search for G-d.

Thanks be to G-d for the need, and For His mercy endures FOR EVER!! Reply

Anonymous Ft. Myers, Florida August 11, 2008

THOUGHTS When I woke today and thought of how my day should proceed.....I thoughtfully said...What now....It is raining..I have an appointment at 1:30 pm...what do I do till then...straighten up, get dressed have breakfast, a cup of coffee....

Then, I opened up tp the Google ...and asked in PRAYER "Where G-d points" and here I am.......Shalom LBW Reply

Carmen Lambert Sydney, Australia March 22, 2006

prayer Let's say I told a friend who had just been robbed that that would never happen to me because I'm devoted to G-d and He'd never let it happen.
Even an agnostic would tell you that's asking for trouble.
So what if I think about this later and realize it was a mistake to say? I'd pray to G-d and ask for forgiveness and beg him not to punish me. G-d might still punish me, or he might decide not to seeing as I had already learned my lesson. So prayer would make a difference in this case.
Same with wanting a sick relative to recover. Praying might teach you to trust G-d and that relative would get well. Or the lesson might be to accept G-d's will, then the prayer wouldn't be answered, but you would still have learned something and become closer to G-d. Prayer makes a difference. Reply

Tanya Frank miami, florida June 15, 2005

my homework assignment This comcept is confusing but i don't really agree with this answer (us JUST being part of the process). Yes, we're part of the process but that doesn't seem fit enough for such a question, it's too plain. It is also a little discouraging when it says that it is pointless for someone to pray for a situation to change because it IS possible for our prayers to be effective, otherwise all that we learn on torah is a complete paradox!

(no disrespect, sincerely) Reply

Related Topics
This page in other languages