God is “mighty to do much more abundantly than we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Do you pray as if this were true? No, God is not always going to answer us in the way we want or at the time we want. But when we pray in faith, everything is possible, not because we are so wise or powerful, but because our sovereign God is.
When believers misunderstand the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, it can hinder our prayers. The reasoning behind this misconception goes like this:
God sovereignly rules over all things and has His plans and purposes in mind for the universe. Why would our prayers do anything to change His plans and purposes?
Yes, God’s sovereignty and human responsibility is a big topic. But I’m convinced this is an easy obstacle to overcome as it relates to prayer. Let’s look at three propositions that can help us.
Proposition #1: God sovereignly governs the world.
Ephesians 1:11 says, “God works all things according to the counsel of his will.” He is sovereign over every molecule and every event of the universe. Nothing happens without His notice, and all that happens only happens because God allows it.
Proposition #2: God calls us to pray.
It would be strange indeed if God commanded us to pray if prayers didn’t accomplish anything. Doesn’t the Bible say that “the prayer of the righteous person has great power as it is working?“
For God to command prayer if it were worthless and powerless would seem an awful lot like Lucy from the Peanuts cartoons pulling back the football right when Charlie Brown goes to kick it. Praise God that He isn’t like that.
This last proposition is how we reconcile these first two truths:
Proposition #3: God has determined to sovereignly use our prayers for His purposes.
To think that God’s sovereignty makes prayer unnecessary or unfruitful fails to acknowledge God is sovereign even over our prayers, and that God has decided in all His great wisdom to use the prayers of imperfect people as a means to carry out His purposes in the world.
On this topic of God’s sovereignty and prayer we can often overanalyze the inner workings of prayer and God’s response.