The Profit of Prayer
Under the pressure of emotional and physical suffering Job skeptically inquired, “What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?” (Job 21:15) But prayer obviously is of incalculable profit. From the standpoint of human responsibility, it is the major element of the outworking of God’s redemptive program. ( I Tim 2:1-4) Besides this, prayer is the source of vision, power, creativity, and blessing in personal experience. Consequently, because of its profit, we are enjoined to give this ministry unquestioned priority. (Luke 18:1, Eph 6:18, Phil 4:6, 1 Tim 2:1, 1 Thes 5:17) Neglect of prayer or indolence in prayer is nothing short of sin (1 Sam 12:23) since it impedes the operation of God’s grace in man’s life.
Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary – 1963
The question “What is the Almighty that we should serve Him?” begs an answer from the innermost recesses of our being. Are we not born with that inherent desire to commune with Him, to serve Him? I believe we are. That communing and a portion of serving is prayer.
Psa 139:14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. (NKJV)
No one ever addresses the second portion of this verse. Look at it in comparison in a few other versions just for fun.
(ESV) I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
(ECB) I spread hands to you;
for I am awesomely distinguished;
marvelous are your works
– and my soul knows that right well.
(ERRB) I will praise shall spread hands unto thee;
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made awesomely distinguished :
marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
(csb) I will praise You,
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know [this] very well.
(JPS) I will give thanks unto Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
(JPCT) I shall thank You for in an awesome, wondrous way I was fashioned; Your works are wondrous, and my soul knows it very well.
(KJVA) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
With this in mind know that I believe we are born knowing who created us. I believe as part of our DNA (and THAT my soul knows very well) the true answer to the original question above is deep-seated and lovingly placed. What is the Almighty that we should serve Him? We are born with a sin nature yet know He is our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Savior. Then we must accept that fact and fall on our faces before Him.
The Spirit is also represented as the source of all intellectual life. When man was created it is said God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became (נֶפֶש חַיָה) a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7.) —Systematic Theology (Charles Hodge)
On to the second part of the verse……
“And what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?” In short here is the definition of profit – to proceed forward, to advance, to gain, to benefit, to be of use or advantage; to bring good to. Prayer quite simply helps us to proceed forward, to advance, to gain in knowledge, wisdom and intimacy of relationship with Him; prayer helps us to benefit in blessing and communion with Him; prayer helps us to be of use or advantage to Him; and prayer helps us to bring good to ourselves and others. In short Jesus commanded we love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul and all of our mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves. To me, that is prayer. Prayer causes us to grow in knowledge, wisdom and intimacy of relationship with Him. That is loving Him. Prayer benefits us in blessing and communion with Him. That is loving Him and ourselves. Prayer helps us to be of use or advantage to Him and to bring good to ourselves and others. That is loving Him, loving others and loving ourselves.
It’s not hard. We pray for profit. Sounds selfish, doesn’t it? But it is not. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. All through scripture we are told to pray, we are shown how to pray, we are told how not to pray, we are told what to pray for and on and on. Mathew Henry says it well, “We should pray always, and not faint: pray without weariness, and continue in prayer, till we come to that world where prayer shall be swallowed up in praise. The meaning is not that men should do nothing but pray, but that nothing else we do should hinder prayer in its proper season. Prayer will help forward and not hinder all other lawful business, and every good work”.
I want to pray till I come to that world where prayer IS swallowed up in praise!