I have a couple of thoughts today regarding intercessory prayer. But first, I want to ask you, do you ever pray for someone? Let me be more specific. Do you ever pray that someone might stop a particular behavior? How about praying that God will soften a heart towards Jesus?
Why do we do that? Why do we ask God to intervene in someone’s life? We all do it. Do we simply know that some things take a miracle? We do. Yet we think some things don’t. For those, we don’t pray.
But it sure seems like there are a lot of things to pray for. We pray for our children, our partners, our parents, our neighbors, our friends, our government, other peoples and other governments. We pray for weather and even safe travel. The more we pray, the more needs we find to pray for.
Therein lies a contradiction in the way most Christians think. If human beings truly have free will, and if God honors that free will, why do we pray that God will change people? If God thinks it’s OK to let someone sin, who are we to try change that? Seriously. But, no, you say, God doesn’t want us to sin. Yes, that’s true, but what do we do with this free will stuff?
Could it be that God responds to our prayer by changing the person we pray for? That’s what our intention is, certainly, and sometimes we see that prayer answered. So, what about free will? Does God sometimes “override” free will? I think he does.
Here’s a little verse that hits this directly. Actually, here’s two:
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Perhaps this knowledge might shape our prayers. Think about it. Instead of praying, “God, I pray that Johnny will change his ways,” might we instead pray, “Father, John’s sin has blinded him. He cannot see. Change his heart so that he can see and worship you.” I think it makes a big difference if we study scripture to find clues as to how God works. After all, he is the one who wrote the bible. He desires us to know him. His words are very important. We would be wise to listen.
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Some people don’t like doctrine. They say it doesn’t matter. I say that the words of our bible are our doctrine. God desires us to ask of him, and he is gracious enough to show us how. We would be wise to study his words. How the gospel works, which is doctrine, is vital if we truly want to be effective in our prayer. On the other hand, if we want to simply flap our lips, doctrine is of no matter. Personally, I would like to have my prayers answered. I’m going to learn what to ask for and how.
Disclaimer. True doctrine is not the rules of a particular denomination. Unfortunately, most seriously contradict the bible. True doctrine is not found apart from, or in addition to, scripture.
Father, teach us to pray. Amen.
Copyright @ 2018 Scott Powers