I was praying for a family member a week or so ago when I noticed something dark in my heart. I could tell that I was not praying with belief. It was more than me not believing God would answer my prayer. It was more of an unbelief that prayer works at all. Deep down I knew my heart was saying, “God will do whatever He wants, so my prayer does not really matter.” I was praying like a deist – as if things were set into motion and there was nothing I could do and nothing God would do to change my family member.
Does Prayer Work?
My friend Steve Hawthorne says, “Prayer does not work. God is at work, and He uses prayer to accomplish His work.” It’s not that prayer is a lucky charm or if we do XYZ, that God will respond. It’s that we have a God who is in control and is still moving. Prayer is how He invites us into His work.
I’ve also been told that God does nothing except in response to prayer. When He wants to do something, He first puts it in someone’s heart to pray for it. This is what He did with Abraham in Genesis 18, when he motivated Abraham to pray for Sodom and Gomorrah. God revealed his plans to Abraham, which motivated Him to pray so that Lot and his children were saved in answer to Abraham’s prayer.
If this is how God works, then I want to begin to assume that when I have an urge to pray for someone, it is not just my ow wishes but rather it is quite possibly something God wants to do. This would help me not to think like a deist.
It’s difficult for me to see where prayer fits into God’s sovereignty. I remember when Matt Chandler spoke about this tension at Rez Week 2010. He spoke about it like a tennis match where we volley verses and proof texts back and forth. It was quite funny. His point was that we won’t be able to understand the mystery of God’s purposes in prayer. As I once heard it said, “Pray like it depends on you and trust like it depends on God.” Easier said than done, but I am trying.
If you’d like to hear Matt Chandler’s message about this tension visit our website.