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Sovereignty & Prayer

Paige Findley - November 23, 2012

ask, control, fellowship, glory, joy, miracle, pray, prayer, responsibility, sovereignty, work

Dear family,

I cannot thank you enough for your prayers. They make a difference I can feel. I don't know how to describe it, but I assure you that I sense His presence more clearly when you pray, especially when you pray together.

A few weeks ago I felt like I was in a bit of a fog, as though my eyes had a glaze over them, impairing my vision of God's glory. That makes for difficult counsel, sermon preparation, and communication.

This got me thinking about two things that, for many, seem like they're in opposition to each other: sovereignty & prayer.

If God is sovereign, if He is in absolute control and whatever He wants is going to happen, why pray?

Two things the Scripture makes plain: 1) God is, indeed, sovereign; and 2) this same sovereign God commands that we pray, that we ask the sovereign Almighty to do things.

It would be in contradiction to His sovereignty to think that God is somehow deficient without us. We do not hold more power than Him; we don't have the upper hand. When He wants to accomplish His will, stand back... or better still, ask Him to do so.

How about that?! When God wants to accomplish something, He puts it on the hearts of His people and in the words of their prayers. Now that's sovereignty! And, it's our responsibility to carry such a miraculous work through to the end... in other words, to utter the words: to pray!

Through our study in John, Jonah, and Genesis, I'm learning that our Father doesn't like to do things on His own. As odd as that might sound, consider the Trinity. God loves to act & work through relationship, within Himself for sure: Father, Son & Spirit. But--being our Father--He also works through the relationship He has with His sons & daughters. Acting alone is not His way, but often ours.

He declares, we pray. He accomplishes, we're enthralled with joy in Him... and this gratitude, love and faithfulness glorifies our Father. What a terrific cycle & mercy! In other words, it is His glory to involve us in His Kingdom come.

Consider Jesus' encouragement of His disciples in Mt 9.38 & Mk 9.29:

Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

This kind [of unclean spirit] cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.

What a gift He gives to His children!

What child is there who just wants to sit by and watch dad put up the tent, or mom bake the cookies, or grandpa build the stool? Perhaps dead ones who can't see past the "glory" of their iThing? Rather, our gracious Father says, "Here. Come join Me in My joy. Drive this stake... Put this apron on... Hit that nail. Let's do this together."

Join Him and His children in bringing about His will on earth as it is in heaven. There are things He wants done. His gracious means of accomplishing them is to respond to the requests of His children, whom He loves:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! -Mt 7.7-11

How much more will our Good Father not give to His children who ask?

It is true: "Our God is in the heavens, He does all that He pleases." -Psalm 115.3 But, it is just as true that it is His pleasure to "do all that He pleases" through the prayers of His people.

What a joy it is to see the Father answer our prayers. There are few things more encouraging than to see Him move in response to our prayers befitting His name, inline with His character, honoring, as He does, the incarnate glory of Jesus His Son. So I encourage you: Do NOT doubt the effectiveness of your prayers, especially those uttered in groups of "two or more". I often find myself praying rather selfishly on my own. But have you ever noticed how selfish prayers simply vanish in the presence of others? Results: Prayer more inline with His glory! Abba loves to reveal His nearness, His power, His glory to His children. The result is more praise of His name, and–in conjunction with our prayers–more joy for His children!

I doubt their effectiveness.

I do not pray enough. Why? Honestly, for the same reason you don't: I doubt their effectiveness. But, when I'm reminded "how prayer works", how it is the glory of a father to respond to the request of his children... then, I'm stirred to pray.

Would you pray with me? I know I need to see His glory in our midst. I need to see Him break hardened hearts. I want to see Him bring revival and repentance among His people in our community, neighborhoods, homes & mirrors. Don't you? What if you could be assured that the same goes for our Father and, in fact, it is His idea, it would glorify His name, and it would bring you great joy & sin-fighting faith in future glory?

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. -2 Peter 3.9

Please, brothers & sisters, gather together for prayer. "Do not give up meeting together as is the habit of some." -Hb 10.25 Rather, gather in the office with a co-worker, with other teachers in the nurses station, in the aisle at the grocery store... even around the table at dinner ;)

Personally, I can attest to "feeling" the difference when you are praying for me. There is a depth in my preparation, a weight to my conversations, a focus in my... prayers! But, I have also felt the fog of being alone, the silence of my selfishness, the fallenness of my funk, the worldliness of my wanderings. Yuck. This to say, I can tell when you are praying. Please abide in prayer for your shepherds.

Why is it so hard?

If you were the enemy of God's children, wouldn't this be the focus of your attacks? If you can prevent the start of something, you can certainly disable its outcome. Imagine how little war satan must wage when he simply keeps heaven's troops preoccupied with lesser distractions. Life is busy. There are papers to grade, bandages to apply, calls to return, wheels to spin, jobs to land, people to serve, and songs to sing. Time is precious; too precious not to use it wisely & effectively; too precious, therefore, not to pray.

It is the Father's joy to answer the requests of His children. His will and work are accomplished through the prayers of His people. As we see Him respond, we are filled with the joy of knowing He hears us & that our prayers make a difference in partnering with our God in ministry. Such joy acknowledges, honors & glorifies the Gifter of all gifts.

"Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let Your glory be over all the earth."