If all things happen according to God’s will, why pray?

 large__2380543038The Bible teaches that God is sovereign and providentially orchestrates all things.   In the Old Testament even the unbelieving king Cyrus of the Persian Empire is called “God’s servant”, because he, unknowingly, carries out God’s purposes.   In the Bible God is always pictured as in control of all things, even natural disasters, the throw of a dice and the feeding of birds.  Here is the question: if all things happen according to God will, why should we pray (or do anything)?

William Carey, the famous missionary to India, was at a meeting of ministers in England to raise money for his missionary trip to India.  One older minister stood up and rebuked Carey.  “Sit down, young man”, he said, “if God wants to save the heathen in India he will do it without your help or mine.”

Does the sovereignty of God, like this older minister supposed, excuse us from prayer and missionary endeavour? In answering this question, we must ask two more questions:

Why don’t we pray?

I think there are three main reasons:

1.  Too busy
Our lives are so busy and cluttered.  We tend to schedule everything else, except pray.
We make time to watch rugby, but not to pray.  Perhaps we need to allocate time in our diary or go to bed an hour earlier in order to spend time in prayer.

2.  Don’t believe it makes a difference
Jesus and the early church were convinced that prayer makes a difference.  Jesus often woke up early to pray and would spend the entire night in prayerbefore big decisions.  The early Christians were often on their knees before God and God worked in awesome ways.  We, reformed people, believe (quite rightly) that God is sovereign over all of life.  We have read Ephesians 1:11.  But often we tend to think like this: If God is
sovereign and everything happens according to his will, why pray?  What we should really be thinking however is this:   If God were not completely in charge there would be no use praying!
Think about it! Imagine you prayed, “God please save my children!” and God said, “Well, I tried to but you children are so naughty – they just won’t listen.”   Or if you prayed, “God please give us good weather for the gospel event on Saturday!” and God said, “I tried, but have you seen the weather forecast – just can’t do it. Sorry.”   Or imagine you prayed, “God,  please change my husband”, and God replied, “I really tried but he drinks too much and is too stubborn!”
If God  were not completely, totally and actually in charge there would be no use  praying.
So, if God is sovereign and his purposes and plans come to pass, does that mean my prayers will not change anything? What will be will be?  We see in the Bible the amazing truth that in God’s Sovereignty he uses our prayers to accomplish his purposes:  We are told to pray because God answers pray and we are also told that God in Sovereign and His purposes will never be thwarted.  As Christians, we hold to both these truths.

3. Sin
1 Peter 3:7 is an interesting verse, it says, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
A husband should not sin against his wife as that will hinder his prayers. How?  Deliberate sin tarnishes our friendship with God.  We feel ashamed, full of guilt, embarrassed and reluctant to approach the holy God.
We should remember that Jesus has paid the price for all our sins by his substitutionary death.  The solution for us is to confess
our sins before God, admit that we have done wrong and turn from those sins.  Then thank God for the forgiveness we have through Christ, ask our wife’s forgiveness (or whoever else you sinned against$) and get praying!
Be encouraged to pray, for yourself, for your family, for your fellow Christians, for gospel workers and for people who don’t know Jesus.