There are seven divine motives for prayer that occur in the Bible-that is, those that agree with God’s will. But for all these seven divine motives, there are major clarifications, which cannot be ignored.
We pray because prayer is a divine commandment, which should be carried out without question, discussion, or delay.
Clarification for Motive #1
Since prayer is a divine commandment, it must be accompanied by obedience to the spirit of that commandment. It must be resolute and free from any delay.
We pray because prayer is the only means through which we may enter into God’s presence. Apart from prayer, we can never contact God. Without prayer we lose our spiritual relationship with God, and our soul dies a spiritual death within us.
Clarification for Motive #2
Since prayer is the basic link that connects us to God, it must be done with awe and reverence and sense of concern that takes priority over all other commitments. Otherwise this link will be broken.
We pray because prayer is a means prescribed by God for enjoying His protection. In this way, we are saved from the peril of falling into the temptations of Satan. However, if we do fall, we may nonetheless hold out and conquer. Such temptations could then be transformed from a means of condemnation into a means of vindication. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41)
Clarification for Motive #3
Since prayer is a shield against temptation and a means of receiving power to overcome it, it must be accompanied by constant watchfulness and alertness.
We pray because prayer is the only channel through which God will listen to our requests and look at them in the light of His mercy: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God” (Philippine 4:6)
Clarification for Motive #4
Since prayer is a means of offering our requests to God, it must be accompanied with contrite supplication that God may raise us up when He comes to us.
We pray because prayer is the hidden way for providing spiritual help to others who are under stress, in danger, or those who are suffering illness or delusion: “Pray for one another that you may be healed” (James 5:16)
Clarification for Motive #5
Since prayer is a means of helping others, it must be characterized by compassion and self-sacrifice.
We pray because prayer is the ministry of thanksgiving to God laid upon servant and son alike: “If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear” (Mal 1:6)
Clarification for Motive #6
Since prayer is a divine ministry before God who is both a Master and a Father, it must be done with standing and prostration, true reverence, and all due honor.
We pray for our enemies who oppose us and seek to do us harm because it is our duty to do so.
Clarification for Motive #7
Since prayer is a means of disarming hostility, it must include a spirit of forgiveness from a sincere heart and a clear conscience.
However, all these secret and interlinked actions are in their nature only varied aspects of the same power, namely grace. Grace dwells in a person’s heart and directs it toward fulfilling God’s commandments. Once man opens his heart to grace out of his own free will in deep longing, it is poured into his heart without measure.
Excerpt taken from the book Orthodox Prayer Life (The Interior way) by Matthew The Poor. Father Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor) was a Coptic monk in the Monastery of St. Macarius the Great, Wadi El-Natroun, Egypt.