As a pastor, I’ve met a lot of believers over the years who ask a simple, but honest question: If God knows what He’s going to do, what’s the point of praying?
If I’m near a pen and paper, I answer that question by drawing a diagram. At the top is the throne of God, and at the bottom are followers of Christ. On the right-hand side is a steady stream of plans that God wishes to accomplish on earth, and on the left-hand side is a steady stream of prayers being prayed to God.
What I show in my diagram is that prayer is really a loop that begins and ends with God. Our heavenly Father, by His Spirit, places requests and petitions on our hearts, only for us to then offer them back to Him. What begins in heaven returns to heaven through the mysterious power of prayer. In this way, prayer is not working to change our Father’s mind. It’s instead finding the mind of God!
[Pull Quote] Prayer is not working to change our Father’s mind. It’s instead finding the mind of God!
When you and I pray, we invite the nearness of God. We lean into the warm embrace of our Father. We accept with open arms the good gifts He desires to bestow. And oh, how good those gifts are! Let’s not forget the words of Jesus in Luke 11:11-13:
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Our Father longs to give us the desires of our heart when those desires align with His will. “No good thing will he withhold from them who walk uprightly,” Psalm 84 promises. In the same way an earthly father wishes to bless his children, not curse them, our heavenly Father says we can rest assured that there are no serpents or scorpions headed our way.
[Pull Quote] Our Father longs to give us the desires of our heart when those desires align with His will.
Think about it this way: Let’s say my grandson, Ian, scurries up a tree and is hanging from a limb positioned very high from the ground. Just when he starts to wonder how on earth he’s going to get down, he sees me walk by. “Daddy Jack!” he hollers. “Daddy Jack! Help me!”
I crane my neck skyward to find Ian swinging precariously from a tall branch and know if I don’t do something to intervene, the little guy is probably going to fall and hurt himself. Now, do you think I’m going to take stock of Ian’s behavior before I offer him a helping hand? “Ian, hold on just a second,” I could say. “Let me check your latest report card first. Let me have a talk with your mom and dad to be sure you’re deserving of my assistance here.” Of course not! Even in my imperfect, sinful state, if a member of my family is in need of my help, I will move heaven and earth to provide it.
And the same is true for our God. When we are sick, He loves to heal us. When we are hungry, He loves to provide food. When we are hanging from a tree limb, there’s nothing He loves to do more than to carry us safely back to the ground. This is the God we serve, my friend, the God who longs to give us the desires of our hearts when we find His will through prayer.