God’s sovereignty is striking, especially in regard to my prayers. Like getting hit by a right hook from George Foreman, God’s sovereignty can leave me in a daze. For some people God’s sovereignty renders prayer useless or at best puts someone into a cosmic stalemate with the Sovereign God. But I do not think that is true, because God’s sovereignty and prayer dovetail together nicely. We pray because God is sovereign.
King Nebuchadnezzar may seem like an unlikely place to begin a study of God’s sovereignty, but we can learn much from this king. Nebuchadnezzar was a king with great pride. He attempted to receive worship that belonged to God alone. God humbled Nebuchadnezzar by taking away his kingdom, his throne, and even his sanity for a period of time. Through this, the king learned an important lesson about God: “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:34-35).
When God confronted Nebuchadnezzar with His supreme sovereignty, the king gave up seeking his own glory and humbly submitted to God. Like Nebuchadnezzar, we also must learn that God’s rule is over the universe. God governs all creatures and events. This is not only in the book of Daniel, but is also found consistently throughout the Scriptures. In Genesis 1 we learn that God created the universe and all that is in it. He is the King of His Creation because He created it. And the almighty Creator King has somehow given us a way to speak directly to Him: prayer.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him how to pray Jesus replied,
Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed by Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in
heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our
debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead
us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the
kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
Jesus’ model prayer shows us that prayer and the sovereignty of God work in unison not in opposition. First, we recognize that our Father is in heaven, which is an elevated position of authority, and we should want His name to be honored in the world. Next, we ask that His kingdom would come and that His will would be done on earth. These are petitions that don’t just imply that God is sovereign but ask Him to actually fulfill His kingly plan, as a sovereign should. Next, we petition God for our needs for the day, recognizing full dependence upon Him. And we not only have need of food, but we have need of forgiveness so we ask Him for that too. Lastly, we pray that He will protect us from evil since only He is able to do that. And then we remember that this world belongs to Him, who is all powerful and deserves all glory for eternity.
Therefore, if we follow Jesus’s instructions we humbly acknowledge in our prayer that:
God is our Father authority who is lifted up high into heaven.
God’s name must be respected and dignified in the world.
God is king of His kingdom.
God’s will is what we want to happen around us.
God is the one who provides for our daily needs.
God is the one who forgives us of our sins.
God is the one who protects us from temptation and evil.
The Lord’s Prayer overflows with sovereignty theology.
Prayer reminds us that there is One who is much higher than us who is in control, and we must bring our requests to Him. Prayer aligns us with the Sovereign by asking that His will be done. Prayer celebrates God’s sovereignty since it wants His glory to be spread abroad. Furthermore, our prayers depend on God’s sovereignty. Think about it this way: when someone is fed up with the bad service in a restaurant he may call directly for the manager. The customer who needs service goes straight to the top. Likewise, whenever we have a need, we go to the top because He is always available to listen. He is the one who has the freedom to do whatever He wishes because He is sovereign, and he wishes to hear and respond to our prayers.
Dear Christian, do not think for a moment that your prayers are useless. God cares for you, and He wants to hear you. Remember that He has sovereignly given you access to His throne, but not for you to just ask for whatever you want. Go to Him with godly requests, pray for honest needs, ask for His will to be accomplished in your sanctification, request His forgiveness for your sins, and ask for shelter from evil. He promises to hear and answer you.