If God is in Control, Why Pray?

This is a paraphrased transcript from my Aug 25, 2017 teaching, “God’s Will & Our Prayers”

Is God sovereign? If so, what place do our prayers play?

1 John 5:14-15 says:

  • God has a will
  • He wants it to be accomplished
  • Our prayers have something to do with that will
  • Our prayers are only as good as God’s will

Matt. 6 Jesus teaches “The Lord’s Prayer”:

  • God knows what we need before we pray
  • We pray for God’s will to be done on earth (as it is in heaven)

Thus, in some ways, our prayers help in bringing about God’s will.

However, later in Matthew 10:29-31 we read:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

So which is it? Do we pray for God’s will to be done, or does He have everything in His hands doing as He pleases?

Or maybe both are true…

We see 2 things simultaneously true:

  1. God is sovereign and oversees everything that happens (even to the small sparrows)
  2. Our prayers directly impact God’s will being done on earth

Jesus is 2 things simultaneously true:

  1. Fully God
  2. Fully Man

God’s Word = 2 things simultaneously true:

  1. The words of God
  2. The words of man

A Mystery

At some level, we can’t comprehend how exactly all these dualities go together. But this shouldn’t trouble us. We are even commanded to, “lean NOT in our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5), so we should expect that there are things we can’t fully wrap our minds around.

Further on the point of this two-part mystery, Joel 2:32 says:

  1. we do the calling
  2. God does the calling

Similarly, Genesis 50 says:

  1. Some intended evil from Joseph’s betrayal
  2. God intended good from Joseph’s betrayal

Or at the cross we read that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to death. Satan influenced him. But also it says the Lord ordained Jesus to be crucified. Thus:

  1. God crucified Jesus
  2. Judas/Satan crucified Jesus

A neat picture of this comes in Revelation 4-5. We see a scroll unfolding what would happen to the future of the church. But as it is unfolded we have prayers (pictured as incense). Thus our prayers directly impact the future of the church. We have a part to play in our prayers.

Watchman Nee said it this way: God’s will is like a powerful locomotive, and our prayers are like the tracks. Nothing can stand in the way of God’s will, but he does look for our prayers to lay the course out.

Also think of wind and a sailboat. The wind clearly moves the boat (like God’s will), but the sails are there to catch the wind (like our prayers).

Like a father or a king, God has a clear will and reign over the world, causing things to happen as he wishes. BUT…as a father’s will is impacted by the cries of his children, or a king’s will impacted by the cries of his subjects, so God’s will is impacted by our prayers.

Zechariah 10:1 says:

Ask for rain in the time of latter rain and God will bring it (paraphrase)

Likewise, Daniel 9 shows Daniel studying from Scripture how it was time for God to restore his people. His response? He prayed and fasted that God’s will would come to pass.

Or look at Nehemiah 1. Here he reminds God of his will and expects this to help impact the future. His prayers according to God’s will was heard by God and caused change in the situation.

Yes, God is in control. And our prayers are part of His sovereignty.

Here is the full recording if you’re interested:

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