Does not everything happen according to God’s will? The quick and easy answer is “of course not!” Gasp! That’s right! God’s will is that we are holy, thankful and always doing good (among other things). Yet how many of us, if we were to write an honest autobiography, would be embarrassed to present it to our Heavenly Father to read! Since Adam, the human race has routinely turned its back on God’s will. This fallen world is the result of us pursuing our own wills. When Jesus comes back, God’s purposes will ultimately prevail and things will be set right again. Until then we are to pray that his kingdom comes and his will is done among us as it is among the angels.
This is where it gets practical. When we pray that God’s kingdom will come, two things are happening. We are submitting ourselves to the kingship of God as his subjects and we are committing ourselves to the kingdom of God as its ambassadors. As subjects, in prayer we align our thinking and our desires with those of God. Prayer changes us. As ambassadors, in prayer we work towards expanding the rule and the work of God in the world around us through intercession and direct intervention. We change the world.
Direct intervention is often overlooked. It is a kind of prayer that goes beyond intercession into the realm of command. It is based on the premise that those who are submitted to the authority of God have the authority of God in the world. As Peter and John told the cripple to walk or cast out demons, so we have authority in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit to do the work of his kingdom all around us. Why would God not honor a prayer that honors him and continues the work of the Lord?
So this really is the second part of the answer to why we pray. We might as well be asking why share the gospel or help those in need, why go to church and use my gifts, why read the Bible or worship. It is because in all these things I am participating in the kingdom of God. In all these things I am advancing the kingdom in my life and in the lives of others. None of these things are effectual by rote. It is the Spirit of God that blesses them and makes them of eternal effect. Why do any of these things? It is because we are the Body of Christ and we carry on the mission of Christ. We should be able to say, as he did, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Recommended reading: Prayer is Invading the Impossible by Jack Hayford