The writer of the New Testament book of James says this:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. – James 5:14
If you believe and trust God in your life, yet experience intense struggle, suffering and hardship, how do you think God is going to help you? You have several possibilities.
God is Going To Take It Away: God will see your suffering, swoop in, and remove both its cause and effect. What are the problems here, though? (1) God’s not in control in this scenario. You are. He’s more a rescue ATM than sovereign Lord. (2) What constitutes suffering which you need rescue from and which you do not? Who decides? (3) Hardships are often when we learn and grow the most. So wouldn’t removing suffering actually be unloving?
God is Going to Let Us Handle It Ourselves: What’s the old saying, “Heaven helps those who help themselves?” What are the problems here, though? (1) Not many associate love with neglect and being uncaring. (2) How does this jive with the presence and work of Jesus Christ, who came to rescue and redeem “helpless sinners?”
God is Going to Stand With Us: God is often identified in scripture as a Father – a perfect parent. What do good parents do when their kids struggle? Take over? Sit back and watch? Usually by offering a place of safety to come and talk, cry, vent, and offer wisdom and support. The child admits he or she needs help. The parent doesn’t dominate or demean. A way forward is found within relationship.
So that’s why prayer is God’s main response to the suffering of his children, because when there’s communication and presence there is power, help and most importantly, love.