Prayer and God’s Providence

Posted on July 29, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Scripture is prolific in revealing God’s sovereignty and power over all things. We often speak of His providence. That term comes from two Latin words; “pro” and “video.” Video means to see; with the prefix “pro” it means God is able to see beforehand all that is going to happen, even tragedy and adversity, and has a plan and purpose to use it for our blessing and His glory.

Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.”  Isaiah reminds us, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, ‘As I have planned so it shall be, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand’” (Is. 14:24).

Excerpts from Psalm 139 remove all doubt that God is all-knowing—”Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days were ordained for me, when as yet there was none of them…Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, and art intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, thou dost know it all.”

So, if God already knows everything before it happens and has a divine plan to use it for His purpose, why pray? Can we presume to change the mind of God? Can we persuade Him to intervene and reverse pre-determined circumstances? We are told to intercede for others and to bring our supplications and needs to a loving, merciful Father who has promised to hear and respond.

There are testimonies throughout Scripture of how God seemed to change the course of  events in response to the prayers of His people. But maybe prayer is not so much a matter of getting God to respond to our needs as enabling us to see our situation and needs from God’s perspective and purpose.

Prayer is a two-way communication. It is not a matter of persuading almighty, sovereign God to provide our desired outcome, but the intimate fellowship and communion of prayer brings us into conformity with His will and purpose. Getting an answer to our petitions becomes secondary to knowing God and resting secure in His plan and purpose regarding that for which we may be praying.

I have always been intrigued with the exhortation of Jesus in Matthew 9:38 that we should “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to call out laborers into the harvest.”  Obviously, God wants the lost to be reached and harvest of souls to bring the nations into His kingdom. Isn’t He capable, as Lord of the harvest, to call out and motivate laborers to be His witnesses and reap the harvest. Certainly! So why do we need to pray for Him to do what He already wants to do and is capable of doing?

Perhaps it is because He wants us to be the laborers.  But we will never be that witness until we see the world as God sees it, until our hearts are so burdened for the lost that we are pleading with God for someone to reach them. It is through praying that God brings us in conformity with His purpose and moves us to be obedient to His will—yes, even one that has been pre-determined and already known by our sovereign Lord.

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