Partners with God

Partners with God

Matthew 16:13–26

Why do we pray?

Last week we talked about the power of prayer. When we pray, it has real power.

But we didn’t talk about why we pray.

There are times when we pray and nothing happens. Maybe it feels like that most of the time. At those moments it can feel as if we are talking to the wall.

It takes faith to keep on praying. We know it is vitally important, but it isn’t easy.

Another enemy to prayer can be our theology. Many people believe that since God is all powerful he controls everything and knows everything, so he doesn’t need our prayer. In that case, whatever happens is the outcome of his will. And so it doesn’t make any difference if we pray, or not.

According to this way of thinking, prayer won’t change God or what he does. Prayer won’t change what happens. The only thing prayer can change is you.

So you may hear people say that Prayer isn’t for God’s sake. Prayer is for ourselves.

Is that why you pray? Is that why we should pray? As we saw last week, prayer has the power to make things happen. In fact, God needs our prayer.

Yes, prayer does change us. We are changed as we pray. As we talk to God, he works on us to change us. But that is not why we pray. It is a consequence or outcome, but not the reason for prayer. We pray so that things happen. When we pray for healing, we do it so that people get healed. We expect our prayer to change the world.

The Bible is full of if-then statements. For example 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

‘If’ my people pray, ‘then’ I will restore their land. Of course it suggests that if my people don’t pray, then there won’t be any forgiveness or restoration. Things are not decided in advance. The direction that events take depends on our prayer.

The Bible is full of things that won’t happen unless the people of God agree with God.

There are so many times when we are required to pray in order for God’s will to be done and his kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.

James 5:16 says – “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

In Greek earnest prayer means energetic prayer. So James is saying that praying with energy produces energy. A force of energy is injected into the world that would not be there if we didn’t pray.

This is how God created the universe. This is how God set up his creation. He made it with relationship at the centre. Communication is built into the heart of creation.

Talking with God affects everything. Talking with God has more effect than anything else we can do. God made it this way.

So in effect God has made his creation so that he needs us. He needs our cooperation. He needs our prayer.

He doesn’t need us the way we need air and water to live. He created the universe so that he needs us to be in agreement with him for things to happen. By his design, God shapes the world through prayer. The more prayer there is, the better the world will be and the stronger the resistance to evil.

We pray because we are told it makes a difference. We pray because prayer determines which direction things will move in. We pray because God has told us he wants us to be his partner. And as we have learned already, his partner has authority. God has given us authority through Jesus. We access our authority through prayer.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he told them to say; Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus says that God’s kingdom comes when God’s will is done.

We can see prayer as the bride of Christ on earth, the church, agreeing with the father that his kingdom shall come on earth.

Prayer does not exist for our personal use so that we can have a BMW or go to a famous university or be a film star, or whatever you want for yourself.

Prayer is fundamentally about us using our authority to agree with God to bring about his will on earth as in heaven.

God needs us to pray for his will to be done on earth. The reason is that it isn’t being done. God’s will is not being done on earth. Can you see that? God is not pulling all the strings already.

Our prayer is important. Without our prayer, God’s will cannot be done on earth.

Prayer is the most important thing you can do for God. This kind of prayer. The kind of prayer where we are calling out for his will to be done. The kind of prayer where we are crying passionately for his kingdom to come.

If you saw a child in danger of drowning, you would rush to help them. That is the kind of urgency we ought to feel toward prayer. It is of such great importance, because without our prayer God’s kingdom cannot come. God’s will won’t be done.

The Bible teaches us that things are actually hanging in the balance and the outcome depends on our prayers. God wants people to go to heaven. It is his will for people to go to heaven, but he cannot accomplish this without our prayer.

We are taught in 1 John 1:9 that “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” And if we don’t, then he can’t.

Jesus said in our reading today that if you want to be his follower, then you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow him. He said; If you try to hang on to your life, then you will lose it.

There are lots of things that God wants to do but won’t unless we agree with him.

God is all powerful, but that doesn’t mean he will go around forcing us to do his will. God created a system of partnership with his children. We are his children. We are his partners. We need to avoid applying human definitions to God. He is all powerful according to his definition of that. We cannot liken him to an earthly dictator. If you want to know God’s definition of powerful, then look at Jesus.

God has created us to be his children, to be his partners, to be decision makers. You can only be a decision maker and a partner when you have free will. You are a partner with God who has authority. If you don’t agree with God, he won’t go ahead. If you do agree with God, amazing things will happen.

You are important and you have influence in heaven. You have influence on how God’s will unfolds on earth. You have influence on God’s kingdom coming.

In relationship with God, his will gets done. As we talk with him, he establishes his kingdom. God needs our prayer. This is why we pray. God has created a relationship of love with us, and has made himself vulnerable to us.

You are made in the image of God. You represent God on earth. You are kings and queens in God’s kingdom. You have authority from Jesus. We exercise our authority in prayer. When we are synchronised with God, his will is done. Our will in harmony with his will equals the kingdom coming.

Your prayer is crucial. Please pray with enthusiasm and energy for God’s will to be done. So many things he wants to do, but he won’t unless you agree with him.

Let’s ask God what he wants us to pray for. Prayer truly makes a difference.

Amen 아멘

About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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