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If God controls everything, do you ever wonder why should I pray?
(Photo: Monument to the Haystack Prayer Meeting at Mission Park, Williams College, Williamstown, MA. This marks the spot where five students prayed for students and missions, effectively launching the North American Missionary Enterprise in 1806.)
Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, “Our Father in heaven.” With that, we are all invited to pray with an intimate and respectful posture toward God. We pray, “Your kingdom come,” acknowledging that we want His will to be fulfilled “on earth as it is in heaven.” Is everything on earth as it should be? No. So Jesus instructs us to ask God to fulfill His purposes, and He further instructs us how to make a request. We are told to ask, “Give us this day,” acknowledging God’s daily promise to provide everything we need. Prayer teaches us to live in a posture of dependence, acknowledging our need for forgiveness and our willingness to forgive others. In doing so, we become part of the answer to our prayer for His kingdom to come and His will to be done.
Praying according to Jesus’ instructions helps us understand four big truths. First, God is a good Father; He’s personal and ready to hear our appeal. Second, God is all-powerful; He’s always right and can fulfill his purpose. Third, things are not as they should be, but we can ask Him to do His will on Earth. Fourth, our posture of dependence, humility, and forgiveness is how God’s kingdom comes to earth.
Jesus’ prayer lesson contradicts the notion that everything is as God intends. God can control all things, but things are not as they should be. A fatalistic faith is a temptation to make prayer a pointless practice. Look at Job’s response when he learns that his family and everything he owned was destroyed. Job said, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21. Christian worshipers sing the words of this Bible hero as a courageous declaration of faith in the face of horrible loss. However, Job’s attitude leans more toward fatalism than faith.
Remember: We pray because Jesus taught us to pray. A Deceiver on planet Earth tempts us to replace faith with fatalism. This may be the Enemy’s most potent weapon. Fatalism is a paralyzing spiritual disease. Job was a hero, but he needed correction from God. Job’s words at that moment of catastrophic loss are not the basis of Christian theology.
Let’s return to Jesus’ instructions on why we pray. Prayer ignites intimate relationships and heart-to-heart communication with God and others. Prayer is an appeal with power and promise. We are not helpless victims. Prayer is the remedy to fatalism and apathy. Prayer is a weapon against the Evil One. Prayer is not pointless. Prayer changes things.