Tag Archives: Prayer

If God is Sovereign, why should I pray?

Why Pray?

The question in one way or another has been asked many times, “If God is sovereign, why should I pray?” This question is asked because many struggle with the fact that when we say God is sovereign, we are affirming that He in His eternal counsel has determined all things that will come to pass. This means that nothing comes to pass without His Divine purpose. Knowing that what God has determined will transpire, why pray? This is a very practical and common question.

The Christian ought to confidently pray for the following reasons. First, we pray because we are commanded to. Prayer is not an option for a Christian. The question, “to pray or not to pray” ought not to be asked. Repeatedly throughout Scripture the believer is commend to pray (; ; ). In-fact, when we neglect prayer we are committing sin (). We ought to pray because God wants us to pray. That in and of itself is a sufficient reason why we ought to pray. However, there are more reasons.

Second, we pray because prayer deepens our fellowship with the Lord and helps us depend on Him more. When speaking to His disciples, the Lord Jesus Christ said,

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” ().

We need the Lord so as to receive grace and mercy in our time of need. Prayer is important because it is a personal way in which we depend on the Lord by worshiping Him, confessing our sins to Him, and making requests.

Thirdly, we pray because prayer is a means that God has ordained in accomplishing His purposes. Yes, God is sovereign and has determined the end from the beginning (Is. 46:10). But this does not mean the Christian steps back and says, “I have no need to pray”. In God’s sovereign plan, He has determined the means to the end. One of the means used in accomplishing God’s purposes is prayer. This means, in an amazing way prayer accomplish things. We don’t have to worry about how to work all this out. Instead, we must recognise that our Lord is sovereign () and we are responsible to be obedient to what He requires of us.

As the people of God we must pray. When we do neglect prayer it is to our own determinant. Be reminded that our Lord is the Almighty. For this reason, let us come before His throne in faithful, fervent and bold prayer (cf. ). Why? He wants us to!

18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

17 pray without ceasing,

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The Value of Varied Prayer

Praying Hands

It is the clear teaching of Scripture that we are to give ourselves to consistent prayer (; ; ; ; ). However, at times we can find it hard as we may  struggle with how we ought to pray.

The manner of prayer is a struggle for many, but it ought not to prevent us from praying! We must not be under the impression that there is a single formula to prayer. As we study the Scriptures we learn that prayer takes place in varied ways. An excellent example concerning the manner of prayer is what is most famously known as the Lord’s Prayer (). Though it was not a prayer that He prayed, it is His prayer in the sense that He created it. This prayer provides us with a model of how to pray (click here for a previous post on this prayer).

A common devise to help us remember the different kinds of prayer is the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) acrostic. Consider the following Scripture references to help inform the different ways we pray:

Adoration
One aspect of the believer’s prayer is adoration. This involves praising, worshiping and exalting the Lord. When we think about what Scripture says concerning who God is, there is much we can praise Him for. The psalmist declared, Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; 
and His greatness is unsearchable” (). When you pray, take time to adore the Lord.

Confession
A second aspect of our prayer time is confession. All of us sin. This is not to be ignored. If you are a believer you will never be condemned (cf. ), but your sin does interfere with your fellowship and joy int he Lord. What do we do about it? The apostle John said,  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (). Confession of our sin is to be an ongoing practice in our prayers.

Thanksgiving
When we stop and consider all that the Lord has done for us and continues to do for us, we have lots to be thankful for! To be thankful is the will of God (), so it is an essential part of the Christian life. We are to never forget all His benefits (). The words of the psalmist instruct us well, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” ().

Supplication
The final aspect of pray we will consider in this post is supplication. This refers to the requests that we make in prayer. This tends to be the most commonly employed aspect of prayer. If we rightly use the previous aspects, our requests ought to be in line with what will honour the Lord. Healthy prayer will involve requests (cf. ). We are commanded to Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (). Our supplications among many other things will include prayer for the lost (; ; ; ), prayer for provision (), forgiveness (), protection (), wisdom () and our leaders ().

We are to take time and pray. Let us make use of the variety of ways God has provided for us in coming before His throne of grace.

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

17 pray without ceasing,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,

136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,

12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

Daniel in the Lions’ Den – Daniel 6

800px-Roaring_Lion_Travis_Jervey

“Daniel in the Lions’ Den” is a story of devotion, deception, despair and deliverance. This specific event in the life of Daniel reveals the character of a man who lived the life of faith (cf. ). From the time he was a teenager through to his later years, Daniel proved to be faithful. This story is the faithfulness of Daniel on public display.

Devotion 6:1-4, 10-11

So as to have order in his kingdom, Darius sets over his kingdom 120 satraps. Over these 120 satraps, he appoints three high officials (of whom Daniel was one). God caused in Daniel an “excellent spirit“, which resulted in excellent conduct (“distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps“). This internal possession was the source of how Daniel would respond to the events that would transpire in this chapter. As a result of Daniel’s character, Darius planned on promoting Daniel by setting “him over the whole kingdom” ().

When his fellow ruling officials found out about this promotion, they “sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom” (a). These men did not like Daniel and they certainly did not like the idea of him being promoted above them. The consistency of Daniel’s life stood in their way and in their minds an old Jew who is faithful to his God was a threat, so they wanted to eliminate him. They evidently placed a close eye on him in the way he carried out his kingdom duties. After careful investigation of what he is like at work “they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him” (Dan. 6:4). Daniel displayed faithfulness in all situations. He was a man devoted to the Lord.

Deception 6:5-9

After this failed investigation, these men formed a conspiracy against Daniel. The focus moves from devotion to deception. These conspirators concluded, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God” (). The only way they can bring accusation against Daniel is by making his loyalty to God a crime. Being aware of Daniel’s faithfulness, the officials (by means of deception) approached the king claiming that “All the high officials of the kingdom” agreed to their proposed plan (). This plan was the prevention of making petitions to any god or man for thirty days (a cleverly devised plan making Darius god for a month). The penalty of those who do not conform was death by lions. An injunction was made and sealed by the king. It was now illegal to pray to anyone apart from Darius.

How does Daniel respond? He didn’t panic or compromise, but instead he displayed faithfulness. When he arrived home “he got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (). Daniel didn’t overreact to this difficult situation – instead he was simply faithful, doing what he normally did. As expected, the conspirators caught Daniel in the act! These men assumed that they had Daniel right where they wanted him (Dan. 6:11).

Despair 6:12-17

Because Daniel was loyal to his Lord, the conspirators had ground for his punishment, and that was to be cast into the lions’ den. They brought this situation to the king by first reminding him of the newly appointed law, of which the king had affirmed and signed off on (cf. Dan. 6:12). Then they revealed to the king who the one was who broke the law – it was Daniel. As soon as Darius heard this, it would have become clear that this was a set up, and he was distressed and did all he could to reverse this law (). Despite his great respect and admiration for Daniel, there was no loophole in the law (Dan. 6:15). Darius then gave the orders for the punishment to be enforced. He said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” (), and the den was sealed.

Deliverance 6:18-28

In this portion of the narrative the reader sees the kings distress and Daniel’s deliverance. In the night of Daniel’s trial, the king ate nothing, received no entertainment and was unable to sleep (Dan. 6:18). In the morning, Darius rushed to the lion’s den and called out for Daniel. Daniel responded by giving God the glory for shutting the mouths of the lions and preserving his life. Darius gave orders for him to be released and issued a command that brought the demise of the conspirators and their families (). King Darius writes a decree revealing his understanding of what truly took place in this situation. These words testify of the sovereignty of God. Daniel was faithful and therefore showed integrity by simply living in response to the fact God was sovereign. Wherever Daniel found himself, he knew it was God who placed him there, so he would respond faithfully. By God’s sovereign plan “Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (Dan. 6:28).

This is a story of triumph in the midst of lies and deceit. The temptation to compromise was before Daniel but he remained faithful. Daniel may have experienced a miraculous deliverance, but all God’s people can expect an eternal deliverance. Regardless of the earthly outcome, by God’s grace we are to devote ourselves to Him and His glory.

 

33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.

Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.

10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him.

16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.