One of the most important truths we need to grasp in our life with Christ is that God ordains both the end and means of achieving that end. He determines the outcomes and how those outcomes are brought about. Unless we understand this truth we are likely to be unfruitful in our lives. For example, we are likely to fall into a sin of prayerlessness. Many of us do not take prayer seriously because deep down we do not realise that unless we pray, we won’t have that which we desire God to for us. We often do not have things, because we do not ask for them( James 4:2). God can give us things but not without prayer. He has promised us to call on him and He will answer us (Jeremiah 33:3; Psalm 91:15).
Now, in order for us to really believe this truth that God will not give us what we desire without prayer, we need to be convinced on why God has ordained prayer as a means of delivering outcomes. I think once we understand that it will help to take prayer seriously. I found this explanation given by Richard Sibbes very helpful:
Why has God ordained prayer? It is for his own glory. Prayer gives God the glory of all his attributes. For when we go to him, do we not give him the glory of his omniscience, that he knows our hearts and knows our wants? Do we not give him the glory of his omnipotence, that he can help us? Do we not give him the glory of his omnipresence, that he is everywhere? Do we not give him the glory of his truth, that he will make good his promise which we allege to him and press him with? What a world of glory has God by prayer.
It is also for our sake that God has established this order to convey all by prayer. He has done it to show our dependence on him. For we being in such a low distance under God, it is good that we should know from whom we have all. Therefore, he will have us to pray to him. He commands it. Prayer is an act of self-denial. It makes us to look out of ourselves higher. Prayer acknowledges that we have that which we have, not of ourselves, but from him. Prayer argues a necessary dependence upon him to whom we pray; for if we had it at home, we would not go abroad.
And then, again, it does us good, because, as it gives God all the glory, so likewise it exercises all the graces in a man. There is not a grace but it is put into the fire, it is quickened and kindled by prayer. For it sets faith on work to believe the promise. It sets hope on work to expect the things prayed for. It sets love on work, because we pray for others that are members of the church. It sets obedience on work, because we do it with respect to God’s command. Prayer sets humility on work. We prostrate ourselves before God, and acknowledge that there is no goodness or desert in us. There is not a grace in the heart but it is exercised in prayer.
The devil knows it well enough, and therefore of all exercises he labours to hinder the exercise of prayer, for he thinks then we fetch help against him; and, indeed, so we do. For in one prayer God is honoured, the church is benefited, grace is exercised, the devil is vanquished. What a world of good is done by prayer!