It does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Praying effectively is very simple: it is simply talking with God. Yet as simple as prayer is, we still find it difficult to pray consistently. I personally do not believe we will pray consistently until we have answered two questions about prayer. Here is the first question I think we all need to get settled: Why pray if God is going to do what He is going to do anyway?
There are two extremes when it comes to God’s sovereignty and our responsibility. Some people say God’s power to answer prayer is limited by whether we pray. They believe that somehow our failure to pray inhibits God from being able to do what He wants to do.
Is that what the Bible teaches? What about the God “who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)? To limit God’s power based on our willingness to pray is to strip God of His sovereignty. In Romans 9, Paul talked about the truth of God’s sovereignty as it relates to His elective purpose: “[God] says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.’ . . . So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (vv. 15-16). God has a purpose He is going to fulfill in spite of what we do or don’t do.
Now, there are people who go to the other extreme and say, “If God is going to do what He wants to do anyway, then prayer is unnecessary.” That is a lethal extreme. People who believe this way believe the same way about salvation. They say, “God is going to save who He wants to save, so why should we witness to anybody?”
I like what R. C. Sproul said about this topic: “God ordains both the ends and the means.” Yes, God has chosen who is going to be saved, but He also has declared the means by which those people come to know Christ–and it is our faithfulness in preaching the gospel. It is the same way with prayer. God has an infinite number of good things He wants to do for you. And prayer is the channel through which those plans flow into your life.
So why should we pray if God is going to do what He is going to do anyway? The simple answer is because God tell us to. But the more complex answer is because prayer is the channel through which God’s power and blessing are poured into our lives.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power Of Faith-Kneeling” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
R. C. Sproul, “Does Prayer Change Things?” Ligonier, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/does-prayer-change-things.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.