Have you every wondered why we pray? After all, if God is all-powerful, won’t He make His will happen no matter what we do? Well, yes…and no. This is no simple topic. Christians have been debating it since Calvin wrote his Institutes of the Christian Religion in the 1500s. Is God completely sovereign or do we have free will? Um, yes.
Are you confused yet?
This past week, I began reading a book on prayer that provided many answers to long-time questions. Dutch Sheets explained why we pray. It is so simple that even my kiddos grasped the concept and began praying with new power! Follow me down this road for a moment…
God gave mankind dominion over the earth.
“And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.'” –Genesis 1:28 AMP
While I had always read this verse with the understanding that God gave us dominion over the animals, I had completely missed that God put the earth under our power. This concept sounded too strange to accept instantly…until Sheets pointed out another verse. And yes, I looked this one up for myself. It was so crazy-sounding that at first, I wondered if he had misquoted the verse.
“The heavens are the Lord‘s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” –Psalm 115:16 ESV
God gave the earth to us to care for, to rule, to take charge of. Unfortunately, we have done a lousy job of it. From the moment Adam and Eve first sinned, we have squandered and injured the gift God has given us. We were given a whole planet to watch over, but we wasted the opportunity to do something wonderful with it. We have failed miserably in our role as watchmen. (Genesis 2:15)
God sent another Man to redeem us.
“So complete and final was God’s decision to do things on Earth through human beings that it cost God the Incarnation [Jesus becoming man] to regain what Adam gave away. He had to become a part of the human race.” –Dutch Sheets in Intercessory Prayer, page 29, comment added
Jesus, the one perfect Man, died to pay for the sins begun by Adam and Eve and continued by us. As our risen and ascended Lord, He offers each of us the opportunity to be bought back from sin’s slavery. He paid that price in full.
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” –1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV
Jesus, the God-Man, redeemed us back to our Father. He gives us the right to approach God’s throne in prayer. Our sin, which had always kept us from God, is now removed by the sacrifice of Jesus. We approach the Father, OUR Father, covered in the righteousness of Jesus.
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” –Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
God waits for us to ask.
Now that we have access to God’s throne through prayer in Jesus’ name, we have a great responsibility…and great authority through Jesus. As watchmen over earth, God expects us to ask Him to bring His Kingdom to earth. He has many, many spiritual blessings that He wants to pour out on this earth. He wants His will to be done here on earth like it is in heaven, but we must ask.
“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…'” –Matthew 6:9-10 ESV
How many times has God wanted to bring revival, healing, or restoration, but we didn’t ask? Consider that we may be living as beggars outside the Kingdom gates when we could live inside the palace…if only we would ask. God’s Word is full of promises for His people–spiritual gifts labelled with our names attached–but they remain out of our grasp because we refuse to ask for them. What treasures of wisdom and power we have missed!
“You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” –James 4:2 ESV
God promises to answer.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” –John 15:7-8 ESV
Part of prayer is surrendering to God’s will. The more we know Him, the more we want what the Father wants. When God’s Word flows out of our lips in prayer, we can be confident that God will hear and answer…because we pray for what He has already said He wants.
We must approach the Father’s throne and ask Him to accomplish His perfect will here on earth. This incredible power, given to us by Jesus, is why must pray!