When I was a kid, one of my perennial questions about prayer was, “Why does it make sense to pray if God already knew all our needs?” Praying to God about what he already knows has 3 reasons.
Prayer is about making God a bigger part of our conscious reality by getting to know more about His character and our relationship with Him. Sometimes making God a bigger part of our consciousness happens through conversations. We could be arguing with God as in Job argued with God about the injustice done to him. Or lament like David. Or please like Hannah. What is unique about these prayers is that at the end of it there is a deepened understanding about God. In the case of Job this understanding comes with God answering Job his own set of paradoxical questions. God did not answer everyone of Jobs questions point by point (as in some of our famous catechisms Heidelberg etc.). But Job was satisfied because God’s presence became a bigger part of Job’s conscious reality!
Secondly, praying to God about seeing ourselves the way God sees us. We see this viscerally with Jacob we see that his wrestling with God helped him to see himself differently. To see himself as God sees him. Jacob the trickster became Israel the father of a nation. When we struggle with God in prayer we become changed people because in the process of wrestling with God we catch a glimpse of how God sees us, and what his invitation for us may be.
Thirdly, prayer is about experiencing Triune joy. We may be tempted to think that Jesus prayed in his human form to model what a prayer filled life could look like. But Jesus prayed because he enjoyed fellowship with His Father and the Spirit. Heb 12:2 talks about Jesus looking forward to the ‘joy that was set before Him,’ as he sat on the right hand of God. When we pray we too are invited to this joyful communion with the Triune God. So the first reason to pray is to enjoy the joyful communion.
Prayer is not some rote recitation to God about what he already knows. It is about knowing God a way in which he is a more conscious part of our reality, it is about seeing ourselves the way God sees us, it is about enjoying God’s presence.