|Series Theme: Difficult Questions|
Title: 20. Why pray God's will?
A series that helps consider difficult questions of the Christian faith
Question 1: If it is God's will for men to be saved, why should it be necessary for us to "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers into the harvest"?
Question 2: Why does St Paul need to request the Ephesian Christians (Eph 6 v 19) to pray that words would be given to him?
Prayer is one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian life. Why is it that God wants us to pray (which He clearly does – see Luke 18:1 on) when He knows what we are going to say even before we say it (Psa 139:4)?
To cut a potentially long-answer short we can suggest two possibilities:
1. For our Benefit
If God knows all we are going to say before we say it, it suggests that perhaps it is more for our benefit than His. When we pray we encounter God and when we encounter God we are changed, i.e. things happen in us when we pray.
Perhaps in respect of the first question, the change that takes place in us as we pray is that we become aware of the need in a new way, and enter into understanding the times and God's purposes in a new way. This is part of the Father's desire for His children.
Perhaps we ourselves will be moved to become part of the answer to our prayer rather than sit as spectators. As we pray and find ourselves entering more fully into understanding Father's will, we find a new joy (Jn 16:24). When we pray WE are changed.
2. For His Benefit
Can it possibly be that our heavenly Father loves hearing his children talking to Him? There is a mystery here because sometimes it seems that God delights answering our prayers and sometimes He just acts sovereignly without us praying. Yet the truth is that as we pray (and so the Scripture declares it) God answers and things happen. In this God is then glorified (Jn 14:13 ), and when God is glorified, we draw more near to Him, which again is His desire for us.
In the case of the second question above, Paul knew he needed God's help and when he (and others) prayed, that help came and words were given to him. His response to that would have been a thankfulness or gratefulness which drew him ever closer to his Lord. Surely God's desire, as a loving Father, is that His children come ever closer to Him, and prayer is one of the ways that happens.