Persuasive Prayers: Changing God’s Mind

This past Sunday, we considered Genesis 18:16-33.  As we saw, Abraham provides us there with a good example of intercessory prayer.  In particular, Abraham shows us the place of building a case before the Lord.  He shows us the practice of asking God and then offering reasons why God should answer our prayers.  This is persuasive prayer.

            One thing that was not addressed was the question of how such persuasive prayers fit with God’s sovereignty?  That is, how is it possible to persuade God of anything?  After all, God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass according to Ephesians 1:11.  If God has planned our days before one of them has come into existence, as we are told in Psalm 139:16, why would intercessory prayer involve persuasion?

            First of all, we want to recognize that God’s sovereignty means that He not only ordains the ends but also the means.  That is, God not only has planned what will happened but how it will happen.  When you plan a trip, you also plan how you will get there- whether you fly or drive; what airline or vehicle you will take, including what route.  You plan the ends, the destination, and the means, the way you get there. The clearest example is that God ordains who will come to believe in Him but also ordains that the means for coming to Him is through the preaching and sharing of the gospel.  He ordains the means as well as the ends.  This is why we must be committed to sharing the good news!

            Prayer is a gracious means God uses to accomplish His will.  The Apostle Paul expresses this idea when he writes in Philippians 1:19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,” (emphasis added)It’s by means of prayer that God’s will is accomplished in Paul’s life- in this case, his deliverance from prison.

            Second, I believe God encourages us to persuasive prayer for our own growth and sanctification.  I believe it is a part of His fatherly care for us, His children.  It’s one way He can grow us in faith and dependence.  As we consider who He is and His works, our prayers gain depth, and so does our faith and confidence.  As we explore the reasons why we believe God should answer our prayers we turn to His word to consider His character and His promises.

            As we saw this past Sunday, there are ample examples of persuasive prayer in Scripture. Underlying it all there should be a spirit of humility and trust.  We come with humility, building our case before the Lord while at all times trusting Him to do what is right. His answers to our prayers sometimes leave us baffled, but He has proven many times over He is worthy of our trust.

            Again, let me invite you to join with others in our church family for some humble, persuasive prayer this Wednesday night (tonight) at 6:30PM in the sanctuary.  We’ll pray for the burdens of our hearts as well as the needs of others close by and far away. I hope to see many of you there!