Monday, December 26, 2011
The Practical Implications of the Sovereignty of God - Part Six
In terms of our personal lives, the doctrine of the sovereignty of God anchors our prayers. Some people think that belief in the sovereignty of God chokes off prayer. They do not see the need to pray if God is in complete control of the situation and his will is ultimate. Fortunately, the Bible does not reason in this way; in fact, the Bible goes in the opposite direction. For example, after being released by the Jewish authorities in Acts 4:23-31, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that had happened to them. This in turn caused the people to raise their voices together in prayer to God. In the prayer that followed they reflected upon God as the Sovereign Lord who made the heavens and the earth, and everything in them. He is not only the creator God, but he is a speaking God who has revealed himself by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of his servant, their father David. Long before Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in the city of Jerusalem to conspire against God’s holy servant Jesus whom he anointed, God predicted what would take place. And when they acted for their own reasons, as an expression of the corruption of their hearts, they did exactly what his power and will had decided beforehand should happen. So rather than discouraging prayer, Luke tells us that the sovereignty of God actually inspired their prayers and motivated them to ask for more power so that they might speak the word with boldness accompanied by miracles of healing, signs and wonders. Their corporate recollection of the sheer majesty of God in accomplishing salvation in spite of the venomous opposition of the powers of darkness did not stifle a spirit of prayer; instead it gave their prayers wings that lifted them up and carried them to the throne of God’s grace.
The same is true of our prayers. There is no reason to pray to a God who is merely doing his best to make sure things work out for his people somehow. While prayer may have some physiological and psychological benefits for the practitioners, that is not why we pray. We pray as Christians because we want to express our love and gratitude to God for all he has done. We also want to find healing for ourselves and for others. We want to see things happen. We long to see the kingdom of God expand, churches established and congregations built up in the most holy faith, the lost converted and brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We understand there is no sense praying at all if God is not sovereign and he is not able to intervene in this world and in our lives. But because he is sovereign we can pour out our intercession with bold confidence knowing that he who reigns over the universe is able to break into human history, including our history, without in any way violating our freedom and responsibility as human beings.
To be continued in my next post...