|The All-powerful God of the Universe asks me to pray!|
The question came up again:
Why ask God for something if He is always going to do what He is going to do anyway?
God always gets what He wants, so the thought is: if He doesn’t want something, why ask for it? It is incredible how complicated God can get when we start to use our brains. This is the reason why Paul wrote, “Knowledge makes arrogant.” 1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB. Knowledge tends to make things far more complicated than they have to be (even though it can be entirely complicated).
As I lay in bed late at night I began to toss and turn over this issue. If God is going to heal our brother from sickness, then why pray for healing? Why? This question came up a few years ago while in a class on intercessory prayer. Why take up a position between God and another person if we cannot change God’s mind (God’s mind cannot change (Numbers 23:19)).
This is the thought that came from that restless night and continued meditation: When we try to gain knowledge of the mystery of godliness we can forget that we are called to obey Christ.
In other words, as we grow deeper in our understanding of God, if we are not careful, we tend to grow apart in our relationship. God becomes an abstract idea, a character in a story, or some unreachable but loving being. The more I learn how all powerful, how all knowing, how big, how large God is, the more I feel like I have less control.
Who’s in Control
This could be the reason why some people feel like they shouldn’t ask God (since He always wants to be in control). Here is where we stumble.
God is in Control, yet He wants us to ask Him for things He has already decided on. Example, Genesis 18, Abraham is met by God and God discusses His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah.
20Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
Abraham responds to the Lord:
24What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Thus begins a little back and forth between God and Abraham. Abraham negotiates a better deal for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah with hopes of securing at least 10 righteous people in the twin sinful cities. Side note: Could there have been 10 righteous people in S&G? Lot, Lot’s wife, Lot’s 2 daughter’s make a possible 4.
Didn’t an all-knowing God who sits outside of time already know that Abraham would negotiate for mercy? Why would a God of integrity play around with the emotions of Abraham when He already knew that 10 would be the magic number and that would still be insufficient to stop his destruction? Why include Abraham if Abraham did not have a real influence? Why pray to God if our loved ones will die on their sick beds or be raised up healthy again…God knows it all?
It would be wrong of me to think that I could answer such a deep question, especially since this surrounds the issue of God’s Integrity. But I would like to begin to offer something of a resolution. To offer some things that can be agreed upon even though a full answer hasn’t been reached.
First, God calls us to Obey Him more than anything else! (Hebrews 10:5-7, as well as other passages) Faith-filled obedience is high on God’s list of qualities He seeks to find and develop in His children. We obey Him not because of His awesomeness and power, but because while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. We obey Him because He loved us first and wants the best for us.
Second, we do not have to know everything about God in order to believe in what we do know. The Bible has given us a lot to know about God. Those mysterious questions that contain confusing trains-of-thought do not have to create a stumbling block for us to believe that God is part of our everyday lives.
Why Do I Pray?
I pray because God tells me to pray. He tells me to ask. He tells me that in order for me to be part of the plan, I have to pray. Jesus said,
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-21
Jesus prayed for Simon. Satan was making a request to bring calamity to Simon’s life. But Jesus prayed for him, not that Simon wouldn’t be tested (just see him during the crucifixion) but would be a better, faith-filled person after the testing. Look at Peter’s life once Jesus left and the Holy Spirit took control. Peter was a dynamo for the faith.
Why can’t I? I better.
Why bother praying? Obedience. God commands us to pray to Him for the things that are important to Him and to us. There is more about prayer to come, so look out for it.