Here is a question I have asked 10000 times: if God is sovereign and plans literally everything from the start to the end, even choosing who His sons would be before the beginning of time…why pray? Why bother? Is He not going to do what He has always planned anyway? I’m guessing you have asked this question too! In our doctrine series on Sundays we have rejoiced with each other that God is controlling all the parts of our lives. If we thought for a second there was even a single rogue molecule running loOse somewhere in the Universe we would probably be struck down with anxiety. He is over the galaxies, the planets, this planet, this nation and this church. Nothing is outside of His sovereign sway. He is working all things after the council of His will (Ephesians 1:11). And yet the question still stands…if that is all true why are we praying?
For what it’s worth here are 4 thoughts:
1. The question assumes that prayer is one dimensional and is all about getting something we want. We will only pray if there’s a chance that God will come up with the goods. This is commonly known as the slot machine approach. You put your prayers in and wait for the blessings to pop out in due time. The problem with this approach to prayer is obvious; prayer is not one dimensional. It is multi-dimensional. Are we not meant to pray prayers of adoration? Do we not confess? Or what about this; do you only talk to your spouse / friend to get something? My wife and I are as close as two people can be. Pretty much all the time she’s ten steps ahead and knows what I’m going to say before I do!! Nevertheless, she listens and…she wants to! Is it not extraordinary that that’s how God thinks about you?
2. As a father of 4 children it continues to be one of my life’s greatest joys when one of them comes and asks me for something (unless it’s money). Perhaps an illustration would help here. Picture a father watching his young daughter trying to put together a puzzle. She tries and tries but she just can’t get the pieces in the right place. Her father watches with great interest but he doesn’t interfere. Finally, she crawls in his lap and says, “Daddy, would you help me put my puzzle together?” He smiles and bends down and together they begin to pick up each piece. Is this not a picture of us as children before a sovereign Father? Although He longs to come to our aid He waits until we have reached an end of our own pitiful resources, sense our dependence and say, ‘Father, help me!’ He knows the outcome but the process is beautiful.
3. God knows what we need before we ask. That’s how sovereign He is! Am I wrong in thinking that this is an incentive to pray? Best to come to someone who knows what we need and knows what He’s doing as opposed to someone who hasn’t the slightest clue about us or the future.
4. Lastly, God has sovereignly planned the means as well as the ends? In other words, surely God has not only planned who will get saved (the ends) but how that will happen (the means). In other words, He has planned for preaching, evangelism and also…prayer. He has commanded these things and made room for them in His plans.