As a Church we are starting a 21 Day Fast today. I thought I might post this thought about why prayer matters to get us going.
My conviction is that many Christians do not pray as passionately as they could because they don’t see how it could make any significant difference. They pray, but often out of sheer obligation and without the sense of urgency that Scripture attaches to prayer.
The problem, I believe, is that many Christians are wondering exactly why the Bible contains this urgency around prayer, to them it simply doesn’t make much sense. They believe that God’s plans are fixed and therefore the future is totally settled. They interpret the cliché “God is in control” to mean that “God controls everything.” So the obvious question is, what real difference could prayer possibly make?
The common saying that “prayer changes us, not God” simply doesn’t reflect the purpose or the urgency that Scripture gives to prayer.
It seems clear to me that the future, yours, mine, our church’s and the world’s is not entirely settled and some things are dependent on the prayers and actions of God’s people. God answers prayer, God asks us to pray!
Knowing and believing this with conviction will cause us to be a people who are more inclined to pray with both passion and urgency.
God’s goal of creation is the participation of humans in a loving relationship with him for all of eternity. God also wants us to be empowered, because he desires for us to communicate with him, and because he wants us to learn dependency on him, he graciously grants us the ability to significantly affect him. He enlists our input, not because he needs it, but because he desires to have an authentic, dynamic relationship with us as real persons.
We could say that God has sovereignly ordained that prayer be one of the means of influencing what transpires in history. It is our means of influencing God’s actions regarding the future. The Lord does not play with words when he teaches and illustrates throughout Scripture that much of what will happen in the future depends upon prayer:
“If my people … humble themselves [and] pray … then will I hear from heaven … and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Think of it this way: Before creation, God possessed 100 percent of all power and thereby all the say-so. When God decided to express love by bringing forth a creation, each creature was invested with a part of that say-so. The say-so of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was at the point of creation no longer the only say-so determining how things would go, he lovingly included us in the fulfilment of his will.
Human say-so is designed to be spent on both the physical and spiritual realm. We can choose to either work with or against God in terms of how we live and affect other people physically. We can also choose to work either for or against God spiritually by using our say-so through prayer.
We are responsible for how we use or don’t use both. There are some aspects of the future that truly depend on us.
One thing I know, God hears and answers prayer
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Ephesians 3:20 MSG
The next three weeks will change the future.