During the lowest point in my life, I wrestled with a common theological question: If God knows all—including my heart and mind—why do I have to pray? And here’s what I’ve found: Yes, God knows our hearts and hears the faintest whisper for help rising from the deepest places in our spirits. But when we’re desperate enough to cry out, we are humbled. And when we’re humbled enough, something happens: God responds with saving power.

We see this over and over again in Scripture. The children of Israel cried out to be free from bondage and the Lord rescued them (Exodus 3:7). David cried out for healing and God spared his life (Psalm 30:2). Later, in a moment of desperate need, David fled from Saul to a cave and penned a psalm, believing he would be vindicated after crying out to God (Psalm 57:2).

Several Hebrew words describe crying out, but one specific verb, qara, connotes the action of calling or crying out loud. Qara is used in Jeremiah 33:3 (translated as “ask” or “call”) when the Lord says, “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” God promises to give wisdom to his people in times of perplexity and confusion. God’s promise to Jeremiah all those years ago is true for us today. The Creator of the universe wants an intimate, loving relationship with the people he created. A vital component of our relationship is voicing aloud our need for him.

Bianca Juarez Olthoff is the author of Play with Fire: Discovering Fierce Faith, Unquenchable Passion, and a Life-Giving God (Zondervan). She is also the Chief Storyteller for The A21 Campaign and the Creative Director for Propel Women.