“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
The power of prayer is really mind boggling. The very idea that we can communicate with the one who created us is incredible. The fact that God has told us that he will listen to us and answer our prayers is even greater. But it also raises some important questions.
Because God is perfect, how is it that he is willing to do what we as imperfect beings ask?
How can our prayer influence God?
How can God be moved by prayer to do something He otherwise wouldn’t do?
Jesus is our Mediator
Jesus now sits now at the right hand of the Father and is our mediator between Him and us. A good analogy would be that of a courtroom setting. Because we do not know how to properly conduct ourselves in court, we would need a lawyer. If the judge had already made up his mind in a case, there would be no need for a lawyer and we could just show up to hear the sentence.
We have no right to come before God without Jesus as our representative. But because we can go before Him, it means that not all things are predetermined and we are simply waiting to hear the outcome. We do not have the power to change God’s mind, but we have Christ who speaks on our behalf to the Father. Without Christ, we have no right to ask anything of God.
Prayer and God’s Nature
Can God make a rock so big that he cannot move it?
God cannot answer any prayer that goes against his nature. No matter what our sincerity and belief that God will act we cannot influence him to go against his own nature. But we also must understand who God is. By asking for justice, it does not violate God’s love. By asking for mercy, it does not violate God’s justice.
When we pray and expect God to act we need to understand who God is. If God can make a rock so big that he cannot move it, we need to understand what his power is in creation. If God cannot make a rock so big that he cannot move it, we need to understand what God’s power over his creation is. If we ask for blessing we need to understand that God’s blessing may come in many forms, from financial to good health.
God will not violate His character to answer our prayers. Nor will He change His mind. However, He will respond according to His nature in a way that he otherwise wouldn’t have responded had we not asked.
Adapted from With Christ in the School of Prayer