When we talk about prayer sooner or later the questions arises, if God is sovereign why bother to pray? If He knows everything and does what He knows is best, why should we even consider trying to inform Him or influence Him by our prayer?
Well, first of all, prayer isn’t to inform God. He knows everything already. There is noting new for Him to learn. Nothing ever surprises Him. And in prayer we aren’t trying to convince God to care for us. He wants to do that, in fact He has promised to do so (Philippians 4:19; Psalm 23:1; 34:10; Jeremiah 31:25). After all, He is Jehovah-Jireh, “The Lord Will provide” (Genesis 22:14).
However God has invited us to bring our needs to Him. We are told to ask, seek and knock (Matthew 7:7-8). He already knows our needs, in fact He knows them better than we do (Romans 8:26). We can be glad God isn’t a magic jinee that automatically does all we ask and meets every wish we express. We’d be spoiled children were that the case. Human parents don’t do that for their children, and certainly our heavenly father doesn’t spoil His children, either. We don’t really know what we need because our perspective is skewed by our own experiences and desire for immediate and total comfort. We are to ask, but we are also to let the final decision as to what is really best for us up to God. That’s why we need childlike faith. When we get to heaven we will realize that God made the right choice for us every single time.
So then, if God knows bests why pray? We pray because God commands us to do so, because prayer does make a difference (James 5:16). We pray because God invites us to partner with Him in His great work of advancing His kingdom on earth. It’s as if God sets voluntary limits on what He does in the world so that we can take part in that work by praying and seeing the results. Dr Billy Graham said that there are rooms in heaven filled with answers to prayers which no one on earth has asked for. He’s right!
Think of a father watching his child try to put together a puzzle. He could help her but doesn’t do so until she asks. Even then, He works with her, teaching and assisting her. He doesn’t take over and do the whole thing himself. But first he waits to be asked, to be invited, to have the child recognize their need of his help and humble themselves asking for it. God, too, longs to come to our aid, but often He waits until He is asked.
Is there a need in your life, or the life of a loved one, which you haven’t been bringing to Him? Maybe it’s too easy, or too hard. Perhaps you’ve stopped persevering in prayer, or don’t know if God cares or not. Bring it to Him like a child bringing their needs to a loving parent. Then let Him help.
(Written by Jerry Schmoyer, 2014. You can find more of his writings at http://www.christiantrainingonline.org/. If you have questions or suggestions feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)