Prayer is Beneficial Because it Changes Us
Abiding in Christ
In John 15:7 Jesus says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This principle that Jesus laid out is key to our understanding of the relationship God’s sovereignty has with our prayers. When we abide in Christ, and his words abide in us, we can ask God for whatever we want and it will be done! When Jesus says this, he speaks of our conforming to himself. God does not change when we ask him for things, rather, we change as we grow in our abiding, and as his words grow in us. “Only prayer according to God’s will is granted” (Hunter, p. 60), our own wills must move to match his if our requests are to be granted.
An Example from Scripture Showing How Prayer Changes Us
When Paul entreated the Lord three times that the thorn in his flesh to be removed (2 Cor. 12:7-9), God did not remove the thorn. Rather the Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). But rather than cause Paul to be angry, it caused him to change, and align himself with what God wanted and gladly boast about his weaknesses so that the power of Christ might dwell in him (2 Cor. 12:9).
While at first Paul did not understand that God desired the thorn in the flesh to torment Paul for his own benifit, Paul learned through prayer that God allowed the thorn in the flesh to torment him so that the Lord would be glorified through Paul’s weakness. Originally, Paul did not want the thorn in the flesh, but through prayer, he came to realize that it was for his own benefit, keeping him from pride (2 Cor. 12:7) and allowing him to display the power of Christ (2 Cor. 12:9).
Paul knew that what God had planned was better than anything he could have thought of himself. Therefore he was more than willing to submit himself to the sovereign plan of God. Paul understood that God knows best and is working all things for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose as clearly shown in his letter to the Romans which he penned by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:28).