Prayer is Effective Because God is Sovereign
A World Without a Sovereign God
While the truth that God is sovereign does present problems to the human mind in regards to its interaction with prayer, before we go to far down the road of belittling God’s sovereign control over all things in order to “solve” the problem, as some do (such as Gregory A. Boyd in his book, God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God), we must look at the other side of the coin. What if God was not sovereign? What if, although willing to answer prayer and desiring to provide for his children, God was unable to do so? There would be absolutely no reason to pray to God at all! Because he would be just like us, unable to do anything about it. “At its root, prayer grows from the certainty of God’s omnipotence and sovereignty. Job says, ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted’ (42:2). Obviously it would be a waste of time to pray to a wimp” (W. Bingham Hunter, The God Who Hears, p. 47). God rules over all, and therefore has the ability to do whatever He pleases, and that includes answering prayer.
The Sovereignty of God Exemplified in Answered Prayers
In our own Christian experience, this writer, as well as countless others pray to God for example, for the salvation of lost souls, that they would place their faith in Christ. And sometimes we receive answers to the positive! But if God was not sovereign over all things, these prayers would be total foolishness! Aside from our own personal experience we see in Scripture countless examples of prayers that were offered up to God that were answered – prayers that apart from God’s sovereignty could not have been answered. Christ Himself prayed for Peter, that his faith would not fail and that he would be restored after his denials of Christ (Luke 22:32), and Peter was restored (John 21:15-17). Abraham’s servant prayed that God would guide him in the selection of a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:12-14), and God did (Gen. 24:15-27). When God was going to destroy the people of Israel for their disobedience (Ex. 32:10), Moses entreated God to turn from his wrath (Ex. 32:11-13), and God did. Joshua prayed that the sun and the moon would stand still (Josh. 10:12), and they did (Josh. 10:13). Hannah prayed that she would have a son (1 Sam. 1:11), and she did (1 Sam. 1:19-20). Far from being a problem, prayer only works because God is sovereign.
First Principle Drawn From God’s Sovereignty in Relation to Prayer