Today, I was asked the following question…
Many friends (Christians) are saying why pray?…God has a plan and He knows what He is going to do and our prayers don’t change that…they aren’t challenging that He is God and sees the big picture…any help?
This is a great question. It is obvious from the Bible that God wants us to pray but on the other hand the Bible is clear on the sovereignty of God. God cannot be controlled, coerced, influenced unwittingly or manipulated by our prayers.
So, what does this mean?
First, let’s look at some basic teachings on prayer.
1. Prayer was important to Jesus.
- Jesus prayed. Luke 22:39-46 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and(H) knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”– vs. 41-42, ESV.
- Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. Matthew 6:9–13 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. ESV
2. The Holy Spirit is involved in our Prayers.
- Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ESV
3. The Prayers of the Saints reach the Throne of God.
- Revelation 8:3-4 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. ESV
- Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. ESV
4. God hears when we Pray in Faith.
- Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. ESV
5. Prayer is about God’s will. Sin can also hinder our prayers.
- James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ESV
6. Prayer is a Process.
- Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. ESV
- God not only invites His people to pray, He wants us to pray. God is moved by the prayers of His People (But Moses implored the LORD his God … And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people. Exodus 32:11-14 ESV). We can see God at work and people and situations change because we’ve prayed and God was at work to accomplish His will. It’s exciting to participate in God accomplishing His will.
- Just because God may not answer our prayers in the way we desire, it doesn’t mean that God didn’t answer the prayer. (… which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11 ESV).
- Prayer ultimately acknowledges the sovereignty of God. Prayer helps us to know the will of God. Prayer should lead us to seek the will of God and to submit to it. Prayer changes us and deepens our trust and submission to God (Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done).
Quoted: “I always think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was God’s will for him to die on the cross yet he still prayed in anguish that “the cup may be passed” from him. Prayer is a sign of faith and trust in the Father in everything. God called upon many of his leaders to intercede for the people and call upon God for the people. It is often times difficult to wrap our minds around the concept of God’s sovereignty and Him calling us to pray … but in the same breath he has called us to pray, so we must pray in faith.“
From the Holman Christian Standard Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
The ironies of prayer are evident: God knows our needs, yet we must ask; God is ready to answer, yet we must patiently persist. Children of the kingdom will have their requests heard (Matt. 6:8; 7:7–11; 21:22; John 14:13; 15:7, 16; 16:23; cp. 1 John 3:22; 5:14; James 1:5), particularly believers gathered in Jesus’ name (Matt. 18:19).