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Questions and Answers From Children About God

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Theodore: Splendid day, isn’t it, Albert? I hope it stays this nice for the church picnic tomorrow; I’m praying it will.

Albert: Mm-hmm.

Theo: Aren’t you praying, too?

Al: I haven’t been. I feel silly praying about such small things. Besides, doesn’t the Bible say that God knows what we want before we ask Him, anyway?

Theo: Yes. “For your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8), and “before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24).

Al: But then why do we ever need to pray at all, if God already knows everything? Why would He command us to do something so unnecessary? It makes God seem very arbitrary. How can I trust that any of His commands make sense if I know some of them don’t?

Theo: It might be better to put that the other way around: if you know that most of His commands make sense, which is part of the reason you trusted in Him in the first place, wouldn’t you trust that even the commands that we don’t immediately understand also make sense? And you do know that God’s commands are consistently reasonable: prohibitions on stealing and lying are accepted as social common sense by all civilizations; and loving God and one’s neighbor, although not what we fallen humans always do instinctively, is what we all long for—by far the majority of all the stories ever written and dreams ever pursued and influential deeds ever done have arisen from the human longing for relationship, which is only fulfilled by God’s primary commands of loving Him and loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40).

Al: Yes, but just because some commands are reasonable does not mean they all are.

Theo: But if you don’t believe in God’s perfect knowledge and wisdom, in giving only righteous and reasonable commands, then you have no reason to believe that He is all-knowing in foreknowledge of our prayers, either, and this conversation is hence unnecessary. So a foundation question is: do you believe that God does know everything, even before it happens?

Al: Yes, of course I do. If He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be God at all, at least not the God of the Bible.

Theo: Right, I completely agree with you.

Al: So then why does He want us to pray? Can’t you see the conflict here? If God knows everything, He doesn’t need us to pray; but if He doesn’t give unreasonable commands since He knows everything and thus wouldn’t make a mistake, why does He command us to pray when it is unnecessary?

Theo: Well, before I try to answer that, I’d like to know what you mean by necessary. Necessary for God, or necessary for us?

Al: I’m not sure I understand what you mean, Theo.

Theo: Of course it isn’t necessary for God—in the sense that it gives Him something He needs that He wouldn’t otherwise have; God has no needs in that sense—to have us ask Him for things before He can give them to us. In fact, He very frequently pours out blessings upon us that we never thought to ask for, even on people who are complete ingrates and refuse even to recognize His involvement in their lives. God doesn’t command us to pray because He needs to know what we want; He commands it because we need to ask Him for what we want and thank Him for His gifts, if we are to live like the people He intends us to be. Prayer is necessary for us, Albert; it’s part of God’s plan for bringing us into full communion with Him, the perfect end of His gift of salvation. God wants us to learn to trust Him, to depend upon Him as the One Who gives us all things. That’s why the Bible is so full of prohibitions against idols—God doesn’t want us to trust any fallible created thing to take care of us, but only Him. Prayer, whether we are asking or thanking, is an act of faith, a sign of our trust and gratitude—how we show that we have noticed that God is doing everything for us. Of course God knows all of our needs “without being asked . . . But I’ve a sort of idea [He] likes to be asked”. God wants to interact with us as Father, not just rule and provide for us as King. He’s both.

Al: But how does prayer come into that?

Theo: If God didn’t want us to pray, how would we ever communicate with Him? He would still speak to us through Scripture, and in our consciences and hearts as He often does, but it would be a one-sided conversation. Unless we talk to God as well as Him talking to us, we can’t say we have a personal relationship with Him. And having that relationship is precisely what we were created for, and so prayer is commanded as an essential part of that relationship. When we pray, “we treat ourselves, in relation to God, not as things but as persons . . . Instead of merely being known, we show, we tell, we offer ourselves to view . . . it is by the Holy Spirit that we cry ‘Father.’ By unveiling, by confessing our sins and ‘making known’ our requests, we assume the high rank of persons before Him. And He, descending, becomes a Person to us”.

Al: Well, I never thought of it like that!

Theo: And there’s more to it than that, even. Prayer is not only a way to deepen our relationship with God Himself, but it is also how we come to better love and help our fellow men as Christians. Very often in this world, there is nothing that one human being, as a human being, can do to help someone else—we can’t fully comfort or cure or reform anyone entirely on our own; we always need God’s grace in addition to our own efforts of kind words or medicine or corrective punishment. And sometimes we aren’t even in a position to give those things. But we can always pray. That is one of the key ways how we take part in God’s work. It is why Jesus said, in John 16:7: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” Through the Holy Spirit and prayer, Christians have the tremendous glory and privilege—and almost overwhelming responsibility—to share in Christ’s work of redemption by bringing the Gospel to the whole world: that’s the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. Practically and spiritually, we have been appointed to share the Gospel with others, and it’s impossible to do that without prayer, without communicating with the One Whose work it really all is.

Al: And furthermore, if the most important consideration in human life is our relationship of trust in and salvation from God, obedience is a key part of that relationship. So obeying His command to pray is certainly extremely important!

Theo: Right you are. Come on; let’s go help set up the picnic grounds.

Al: And praying for good weather is one of the ways we can help!

Ask your children

What do you think about Theo’s answers to Albert’s questions? Do you have any other questions of your own that this dialogue has brought up for you? Challenge them to think up more responses they could give, if someone asked them a question like Albert’s.


1 C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew (New York, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1955), p. 163
2 C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (New York: A Harvest Book, Harcourt Inc., 1963), p. 21

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