Why in the heck does God need our prayers?
“After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.”” (1 Kings 18:1, ESV)
“When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”” (1 Kings 18:17–19, ESV)
“And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’ ” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18:41–46, ESV)
It is about a distance of 10 miles that Elijah ran to get to Jezreel before Ahab’s horses and chariots.
God said he would send rain. Why did Elijah have to pray, and that 7 times?
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (James 5:13–18, ESV)
God is Sovereign, he can do what he wills. Why does he desire and require our cooperation and participation?
Faith or Fatalism:
Fatalism: God is Sovereign. He will do whatever he wills, so why bother praying? Extreme Calvinism and Islam are similar in this regards towards God.
God is indeed sovereign and sometimes he acts without human participation, but often it is for judgment of a rebellious people. Even then, he relents when people repent.
“Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:4–5, ESV)
“When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10, ESV)
“The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” (Psalm 115:16, ESV)
The Truth is that God’s will is for our victory, our healing, our deliverance and for salvation, but there is resistance in the earth and the atmosphere.
“Thy will be done on earth, as it is already being done in heaven….”
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11–12, ESV)
We are in a war with others who are under Satan’s power either by deception or by willing obedience. They also have authority on the earth and give permission to be used for and by evil. And as in any battle, there are casualties on the good side. We, the people of God, are discouraged and give up in the battle. We get tired of the fight. We doubt God’s will and surrender to fatalism. If God wanted it to happen then it would.
Well God does not desire any to perish, but many do.
See how Daniel was resisted as he prayed.
“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.” (Daniel 10:2–3, ESV)
“Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”” (Daniel 10:12–14, ESV)
Not only does God require our prayers, but he wants us to be successful in our prayers. He wants us to maintain our determination, our face like flint, till we see our godly prayers answered.
Be Persistent in prayer:
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, ESV)
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2, ESV)
“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11:9–10, ESV)
It is not God resisting your prayers… it is the enemy. Why does God allow the enemy to resist? War is necessary, to war through the resistance:
“Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.” (Judges 3:1–2, ESV)“They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.” (Judges 3:4, ESV)
Do You really believe God wants to and will answer your prayers?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5–8, ESV)
Double minded in Greek is dipsychos = 2 minds.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV)