Prayer and the Sovereignty of God -- By: Curt Daniel

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 01:3 (Summer 1992)
Article: Prayer and the Sovereignty of God
Author: Curt Daniel


Prayer and the Sovereignty of God

Curt Daniel

Sooner or later, every believer in the sovereignty of God’s grace comes face-to-face with a two-edged theological problem that has great practical implications. One edge is this: “If God is really sovereign, then why pray?” In other words, why should we pray if God has already predestined whatever will come to pass? Will He not do whatever He pleases anyway without consulting us? The second edge is this: “If we are commanded to pray, how can it be said that God is sovereign and has foreordained everything that will happen?” How do we reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility in this thorny dilemma? And how do we pray with real feeling and passion with a clear view of God’s sovereignty?

These are not merely questions for ivory-tower theologians. Anyone who has not wrestled with this question has not waded far into the ocean of divine sovereignty or the mysteries of prayer. It behooves us to take another look at an old but ever-present problem.

Prayer is talking to God in the right way. Demons and unbelievers talk to God, but not in the right way. Blasphemy can hardly be called prayer. It takes a believer to pray to the true God. Probably the best concise definition of prayer is the answer to Question 98 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.”

Prayer is both a duty and a privilege. God commands us to pray. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17; Matt. 7:7; Luke 18:1; Phil. 4:6; Heb. 4:16). Prayer is part of the revealed will of God. Consequently, not praying is a sin (1 Sam. 12:23). In addition to the many commands to pray, we are exhorted to imitate the many examples of those who pray (e.g., James 5:16–18).

Prayer is also a privilege. God’s children have been

granted access into the throne room of their Father (Heb. 4:16). This privilege has not been extended to all men; it belongs only to those who belong to Christ by faith. It is one of the highest privileges a Christian has. God, of course, did not have to grant this privilege. He could have deigned to conduct the business of running the universe all by Himself ...

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