Have you ever wondered, or asked yourself, why such a thing as prayer exists? When you consider it in the natural, prayer takes on the element of mystery. Does God need our help? After all, just His Word created everything that exists. Could He not speak the Word again and accomplish any purpose He wished? Why does this verse indicate a dependence upon man? We know He is God – Almighty God. Does He really need man’s involvement?
The text scripture above was spoken by God through the great prophet Ezekiel, at a time when the nation of Israel was deep in rebellion, idolatry, and apostasy. They had forgotten the God of their fathers, and had aligned themselves with the false gods of the heathen around them. They were living oblivious to the fact that the day of reckoning was looming in the distance. In accordance with God’s justice at the time, they deserved to be destroyed, but here we see God trying His level best to avoid administering just punishment upon His people. He longed to spare the Israelites the judgment they deserved, but it seemed He was helpless without man! He said, “I searched…” That means He extended considerable effort to find a man – just one man, who would stand between Him and the nation and pray on their behalf. And you can feel the sadness in the words, “…but I found no one.”
And so again the question emerges. If He wills, why can’t He just do it, prayers or no prayers? The fact is, from the beginning of creation, God put man in charge of the earth, and He always lets man have a say in what happens here. He lets man choose to accept redemption, and he lets man choose to ask for His intervention in human affairs.
It’s clear that God waits for man to “make his move,” and will not overstep His place in the covenant agreement. That’s why, in His Word, He so often invites us, entreats us, urges us, and even begs us to pray! In Matthew 7:7, the literal translation carries within it a sense of urgency. “Ask, I ask you to ask; seek, I entreat you to seek; knock, I urge you to knock!” And in Matthew 9:38, He pleads with us. “…pray that laborers will be sent forth into the harvest fields.” He is theLord of the harvest; the laborers are His, and yet we are urged to pray reapers into the fields.
At this point we must note one vital point in the program of prayer. God categorically promises to answer! He has bound Himself to answer. His promises to answer prayer are so sweeping that we virtually have a “blank check” signed, “In My Name … Jesus.”
“And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And we know that if He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked fromHim.” (1 John 5:14-15). Here is a sweeping promise from God Himself with no qualifications or built in hedges. The entire concept of prayer on God’s part is watertight. There is no fine print. Through the medium of prayer He invites redeemed man into full partnership with Him in governing the affairs of the earth. God Almighty makes the decisions and the responsibility for administering these decisions has been placed upon the Body of Christ – His church.
That is why a prayer-less church is automatically a powerless and ineffective church. God invented prayer for a purpose, so that we who will someday co-reign with His Son Jesus can receive on-the-job training in overcoming. Through prayer we enforce Heaven’s decisions in the daily affairs of man. That is how God planned it, and it simply will not work any other way.
The great John Wesley once said, “I am convinced that God does nothing except in answer to believing prayer.” We are discovering that Wesley spoke with heavenly wisdom.
© Ted Pavloff 2007
Artwork: © Jim Sutton, gospelgifs.com