In the first part, I wrote on God’s sovereignty and how the prayers of his people fit into his perfect plan. Prayer is a means for us to cling to God’s promises with the full assurance of faith. It is a means ordained by God through which some of his purposes have been, are being, and will be carried out. What a privilege for us as believers to have a place in God’s plan! With this in mind, what is to be our attitude of and response in prayer related to God’s sovereignty as found in Scripture?
It might be good first to say what our attitude should not be. In prayer, we should not merely bring our “laundry list” or “to-do list” before the Almighty. Doing so is dishonoring and degrading to the Sovereign of all creation. We are told to “cast all our burdens on the Lord” (Psalm 55:22), but not in a self-serving way of asking a cosmic genie for our wants and needs. This shamefully reduces God to the role of our servant, doing what we want and fulfilling our desires.
Instead, as A.W. Pink says, prayer is “a coming to God, telling Him my need, committing my way unto the Lord, and leaving Him to deal with it as seemeth Him best” [emphasis his]. Doing so subjects my will to God’s instead of the aforementioned circumstance of relegating God under my own will. Can the clay command the potter what to do (Jeremiah 18:6)? Of course not; we must subject ourselves to the will of the Potter (Isaiah 64:8). Jesus prayed this way in earnestly asking the Father to “let this cup pass,”subjecting himself to the Father’s perfect will: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26).
Prayer is not God giving us a blank check with an invitation to fill it in, as Pink says, but an asking according to God’s will. What does this mean? Pink rightly describes this as real communion with God:
“Real prayer is commuion with God, so that there will be common thoughts between His mind and ours. What is needed is for Him to fill our hearts with His thoughts, and then His desires will become our desires flowing back to Him.”
Praying “in Jesus name” relates to praying according to God’s will – closing our prayers in Christ’s name is to not be mere empty rhetoric. To ask God for anything in Christ’s name means our asking needs to be in line with what and who Christ is – “To ask God in the name of Christ is as though Christ Himself were the suppliant.”
In closing, prayer is a means ordained by God for carrying out his purpose, and we are commanded to pray without ceasing. Further, it is not merely bringing to God a list of things we want, but it is a subjecting of our will to his – praying in line with his promises in Scripture, with his character, and with who Christ is. It is, as Pink says:
“the taking of an attitude of dependency upon God, the spreading of our needs before Him, the asking for those things which are in accordance with His will…it is much more than a pious exercise, and far otherwise than a mechanical performance. Prayer is, indeed, a Divinely appointed means whereby we may obtain from God the things we ask, providing we ask for those things which are in accord with His will.”
How much more do I need God to show me my sin when I come to him in prayer wrongly! How often do I lose sight of God’s sovereignty in prayer, and elevate my footstool to a throne! Father, teach me to pray more in line with your will!