“People ask me, ‘Why pray if God is sovereign?’ I respond, ‘Why pray if He isn’t?’”
“When a man is at his wits’ end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get in touch with Reality.”
Today we’re talking about barriers #4 and #5.
Why am I doing this anyway? If God already knows what He’s going to do, why pray in the first place?
First of all, Scripture really does make it clear that God does change His intended course of action. Second Kings 20:1-6 indicates this very plainly with God relenting from killing King Hezekiah due to hearing his prayer. And there are many other occasions like this. But let’s not miss the deeper lesson here. Instead of only hearing my thoughts on these interesting, difficult, and often exasperating questions, I realized it may be helpful to get a number of established individuals’ thoughts for the answers.
In an article by InterVarsity entitled If God is in Control, Why do We Pray? Eugenia Brown, Professor of History at Edgewood College sees prayer not as a laundry list of wants, but instead as a way to regain perspective in her relationship with God. She says, “we pray to deepen our relationship with God. We pray to remind ourselves of our place of humility, to remind ourselves that God is God, and we are not. To submit myself to God in prayer changes me. I believe that God loves me enough to want to transform me into all that God created me to be, but I must cooperate in that transformation. Every time I pray, I cooperate just a little bit more.”
In the same article,Mary Anne Voelkel, missionary and former Prayer Coordinator for InterVarsity says this, “Since God is a Spirit and we cannot see him, perhaps our interactive prayer communication encourages our faith and develops intimacy and dependence.”
Hank Hanegraaff, a leading apologist, echoes this sentiment when asked: Why Should I Pray if God Already Knows What I Need? “We need to realize that prayer is not just bringing our requests to God. Prayer is ultimately developing a relationship with the Lover of our souls, out of which everything else flows…Jesus often went away to a quiet place because He desired to have fellowship with His Heavenly Father…God not only ordains the ends but also the means of our prayers and that is enough for us to pray (The One Minute Apologist).”
“We want to be in line with God’s will, and prayer is not so much about changing God’s mind as it is to bring ourselves into alignment with God’s heart (Terry Morrison, Director Emeritus for InterVarsity Faculty Ministries).”
“We find intimacy with God through communicating with Him in prayer. We go to Him in faith, knowing that He hears and answers all our prayers (1 John 5:14). Be confident that God knows and wants what is best for us; so ask that His will be done in all we seek from Him. Then, thank Him for it, even though it hasn’t happened yet.”
In addition, Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us we have the opportunity to pray boldly — “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens- Jesus the Son of God- let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time (HCSB).”
Above all, pray with sincerity, honor, and humbleness before the Almighty God. “The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect (James 5:16, HCSB).” Let’s face it, God really does end up changing His previously intended course of action for His glory, on the basis of the prayers of men (cf Hezekiah, Moses, Abraham, Jeremiah’s instruction for the people…etc).
Here’s the key on these all too familiar barriers to prayer: what we do really does matter. Asking why should I pray is like asking why should I eat lunch, or breathe, or wear clothes to work? Because God, in His infinite goodness, has ordained the ends and the means of our prayers and our lives for that matter. Therefore, our prayers matter to Him. They should matter to us as well in that we get to have this intimate and beautiful relationship with a God who cares. What an unspeakable joy!
People have all but forgotten about Europe and their need for the gospel. The above thoughts indicate that we have the opportunity to change the course of history with regard to faith in Europe. The time is NOW! Let’s do it!
Clayton J. Elliott, Kontaktmission USA
Pastoral Ministries and Prayer
clay@GoKMUSA.org (731) 217-1741
Here are two of this month’s prayer requests from KM missionaries in the field.
From the KM missionary team working in Deinze, Belgium. “As a congregation we are looking for new ways to share the gospel. Please pray for wisdom and God’s mighty work in our city and the surrounding area. Pray for all of the preparations for an evangelistic even in September when a team from South Africa will come to help us.”
From the KM missionary team working in Iasi, Romania. “We are going to build a house for a family with three children and great financial disadvantages in Golaiesti. We will also be building a meeting space for children there. The Good News has never been shared in this village before and there are no Christians there. Please pray that we may accomplish this with faith and confidence in the help of our Lord.”