Why should we pray? Does God need help? Is He not able to do anything He desires? Is He not self-sufficient?
Careful reading of Ezekiel 22:30-31 can help answer these questions.
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 22:30-31
It is very apparent from this reading that God desired to avoid exercising just and deserved judgment. He actually sought for someone to ask, to intercede, that judgment be diverted. Finding no one, God, bound by His own justice, meted out deserved judgment. If no one intercedes, God must exercise judgment when He does not want to. Why is this? His justice demands judgment. His love seeks an intercessor to intervene.
God does nothing in the realm of human redemption outside of the plan of prayer and intercession. This is underscored by many Biblical references to prayer and multiple entreaties, urgings and invitations for us to pray. A translation of Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, I ask you to ask—seek, I entreat you to seek, knock, I urge you to knock.” The importance of prayer is made evident as there are 667 references to prayer found in the Bible. God invites us, urges us, and commands us to pray.
Furthermore, the importance of prayer is underscored by God’s binding Himself to unequivocally answer. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14). “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24). “…ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2b).
In light of this, the entire responsibility for prayerlessness or ineffective prayer must rest on us. His promises to answer are always circumscribed by His will, but any truly yielded child of God would never will anything outside of God’s will. So, there is no “small print” on God’s part in the plan of prayer.
The plan of prayer is God inviting man into partnership with Him to implement His word and will in the affairs of men. Man does have a will. God tells us that whatever we bind or loose on earth, the same will be done in heaven (see Matthew 16:19). In Luke 10:19, we are told that He has given us power (authority) over things on earth. We are the “deputies” with full authority.
The scheme of prayer also encompasses God’s plan to fulfill His purpose for a bride that will rule and reign with Him. Prayer becomes the training arena. It is the apprenticeship for the eternal position of ruling and reigning. We practice enforcing the will of God on earth as it is in heaven. We bind, loose, agree on earth and reign in life! God will not act without our exercising our will in prayer to intercede for His will to be done. He will not sabotage His training program to bring us into full stature, into our inheritance of the ruling, eternal partnership with Him. His part is complete and He gives us the opportunity, through prayer, to enter into this partnership as joint heirs with God.
John Wesley said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.” S. D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray” and “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
Prayer is—should be—the main business of the church.
Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is entering into partnership, “joint heirs,” with God. What He has willed in the heavens can be done on the earth. His word that is settled in heaven completes its circuit on earth as we declare in prayer, with faith believing, that His word is true.
God had declared His intentions, His will in Jeremiah 25, “…Because ye have not heard my words…land shall be a desolation…shall serve the King of Babylon seventy years. I will recompense them according to their deeds….” Years later, Daniel reads the prophecy of Jeremiah and realizes the time for deliverance from Babylon is near and sets himself to seek the Lord by prayer and fasting for the fulfillment of the prophecy. The prophetic promise had to be prayed into fulfillment. God declared His will from His eternal perspective. Man prayed it into earthly reality!
In Exodus 25, after the incident of the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf, God’s intentions were to consume them in the fury of His anger. Moses interceded on the basis of the covenant promise made to Abraham and God spared the people.
God’s law and justice dictate judgment and consequences. God’s love and mercy wait patiently for an intercessor to plead the case. God’s word is settled in heaven. Our prayers bring them to reality in the earth. As we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” our prayers become the discipline training of our future ruling and reigning with Him.
Why pray? God waits for our will to bring His will to earth.