The Scriptures tell us that God is sovereign. He guides all human ways and actions by His providence. God delights in being sovereign for the good of His people and His creation. The dictionary defines “sovereign” as possessing supreme or ultimate power. This means that the sovereign God has complete control over His creation.
At the same time, God instructs us to pray. The Scriptures promise us that God listens to our requests and petitions; He hears our prayers. The Scriptures also assure us that God will act as we pray. In fact, prayer is a commandment. Jesus even gives us a model of how to pray.
When we think of God ‘s sovereignty, His absolute control and power over everything, the question arises: why would the sovereign God, who has His own will for all things, instruct us to pray? How do we reconcile prayer with the sovereignty of God?
The answer is that prayer is the means that God in His sovereignty chose to work through. For example, the sovereign God provides daily meals for our families to eat. Nevertheless, we need to go to work in order to earn money to pay for these meals. God supplies our sustenance through the means of our work. He operates through people who are planting the fields and harvesting the crops. He has also chosen to work through nature, sunshine, and rain to supply His creation. This is the way God provides.
In the same way, God works in human affairs through prayer. Prayer is the means through which God operates in our lives. This is why prayer is really important; it matters. I can say, “God has sovereignly decided to feed me.” But if I don’t go to work, don’t go to a grocery store, and don’t cook a meal, I am going to starve. I misunderstand how the sovereign God has chosen to work in my life.
This is also true about prayer. If I live a prayerless life, I will starve spiritually. God determined to work in my life through prayer. So if I want to know God more, I need to pray. If I want God to give me a better job or to perform a miracle in my family, I need to pray. Prayer is the means that God has chosen to work through and manifest His sovereign will in my life.