As a clearer vision of God’s sovereignty emerged in my life, I came across a potentially paralyzing problem: if God is truly sovereign over all things and nothing outside of his will ever happens, doesn’t that render praying useless? The answer matters. One of our core values at Bethlehem College & Seminary is “prayerful dependence” upon God.
Perhaps one way to start answering this question involves realigning our mental framework. If the goal of prayer is to change the future so that it aligns with our will or what we believe to be best, then God’s sovereignty would indeed serve as a negator because it would frustrate our designs. God, however, does not align himself with what we think is best; rather, our job is to align ourselves with his will. This paradigm inverts the goal of prayer. We go to God to bring ourselves into alignment with his kingdom purposes, to teach our hearts to want his will in the world, to ask for eyes that can see his work around us in the lives of others and in the world at large. This is the reason that Jesus taught his disciples (and us) to pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” at the beginning of the Lord’s prayer.
However, maybe the question is not prompted by a desire to pre-empt God’s will but, rather, to be efficient. Why take the time to pray if God’s got it all figured out? To begin to answer this question, let’s look at one of the (many) powerful intercessors in Scripture—Moses. At the burning bush, God told Moses what his will (and Israel’s future) was: “I have come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). At that point, Moses was still a spectator—God has a plan. Good to know—but watch what happens: “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Whoa! The movement from spectator to participator is nothing less than dramatic — so dramatic, in fact, that Moses responds, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). Whoa, God, I thought we were discussing your plans for Israel, not your plans for me! Moses continued to intercede for the people before the throne of Pharaoh, and as intimidating as that was, it also served to be good practice as Moses would later intercede for the people before the throne of the one and only self-existent Creator God, Yahweh. Whoa. And Moses’ call to plead for the people before God was the exact tool that God used to accomplish the preservation of his people, Israel (Exodus 32:11-14).
Why pray? Because to be called to prayer is to be called to participate in the will of God. Prayer changes us: our hearts, our desires, our actions. Through prayer, we not only align ourselves with God’s will, but we actually get to be more than just spectators in the stands; we receive the privilege of stepping onto the ball field (so to speak) and playing in the game. God knows what he will do, and, as we pray, he will put us on the path to participate in what he will do. To pray is to participate, and it often puts us on the path to other means of participation in God’s plans as our words, actions, and lives reorient themselves toward his will. Prayer is the means by which he accomplishes his will for us, in us, through us.
Oh, the kindness of God that he would use us to accomplish his divine, sovereign, and perfect will…through our conversing with him in prayer. Let us not be derailed by the question of efficiency, when there is actually nothing more efficient than to be used by God in the way he intends, which is not in the way of Pharaoh (who resisted the will of God) but in the way of Moses (who submitted himself to the will of God, sometimes after honest wrestling). To pray is grace and gift and mercy. Will you join us in helping God accomplish his will for Bethlehem College & Seminary through prayer?
Kristin Tabb Faculty Wife
Greg Mott’s Message at Chapel,
March 31, 2016 on Native American Ministry
Join us for our weekly Chapel Service on Thursday, April 14th, 12:45-1:45pm, to hear student testimonies.
1. That prospective students attending Preview Day this week will be moved to apply for future enrollment.
2. That the saints of Bethlehem Baptist Church be blessed as they celebrate “Bethlehem College & Seminary Focus” this weekend.
3. That current students would be supplied energy, ability, and wisdom to finish strong as they conclude the semester.
4. That God would place discernible callings to ministry on the lives of The Class of 2016, in the church and marketplace.