We are continuing our walk through Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Today we are focusing on prayer. To begin, we should recognize how great a gift prayer is, for prayer is communicating with the Creator of the Universe. Imagine if you could call the President of the United States up at any hour of the day, and you were guaranteed that he would always pick up and listen. Now multiply that by infinity.
The second thing we should remind ourselves about prayer is that it is not for God, but it is for us. Too often I worry that we treat prayer as informational and not relational. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:8. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” This understanding of God matches well with what we have learned in past chapters regarding God's incommunicable attributes and providence.
So why pray? Grudem lists three reasons why a Sovereign God desires us to pray: It displays our dependence, it encourages fellowship, and it allows us to participate in God's will.
First, In our above passage it states, “in our weaknesses.” This is the primary reason why we tend to pray. In moments that we come to the end of ourselves, we turn to God. Even unbelievers feel an urge to cry out to their Creator. When we do this, we are saying, “I can't, but You can.” It is unfortunate that we seem only to pray when things get really bad. For the truth is that we are always in need of God's grace.
Second, the way that relationships deepen is through communication. God desires for his children to grow closer to Him by two means; reading the Word (Him talking to us) and praying (us talking to Him). All of the great Godly men that went before us found great comfort in prayer. Andrew Murray, a South African Dutch reformed pastor who authored over 240 books once said, “O, let the place of secret prayer become to me the most beloved spot on earth.”
Third, it is an amazing thing that a Sovereign God invites us into His work. God does not need us, yet it is His will to use us. This is one powerful aspect of prayer. In understanding this, it helps to have categories in your mind. The first category is that God is Sovereign and His will is always achieved. We will call this “His end.” The second category is the way in which God accomplishes His end. We will call this “His means.” Our prayer is “His means” to accomplish “His end”. Meaning, that our prayer really does cause God to act; however, our prayers are ultimately caused by God. Prayer is God’s ordained means to reach God’s ordained end. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14). “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27).
Prayer is perhaps one of the sweetest realities of a life devoted to the Lord, let us not ignore it, let us embrace it.