The Creator creates room to receive glory through our prayers as He answers them. Yet, sometimes we steal His glory.
Hearing or reading “I believe in the power of prayer” often makes me cringe a little. With that phrase – though unintended as it may be – the glory of God is diminished as He works in, on, behind, between, over, under, and through the prayer request and any affected by it. It is diminished because we live in a world with mini-gods and many gods that might be credited with the one, true God’s work.
God works whether we pray or not.
However, in order for God to get the full glory He deserves, we must remember prayer is the trust walk we have with God. Yet, familiarity with the verse about trusting God and not leaning on our understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) doesn’t protect us from doubt if we get an answer we didn’t want for ourselves or others – particularly if pain, hurt, or discomfort is involved.
Those answers we didn’t want can challenge us on a basic level. When we get them, do we abandon God? Do we follow what the world misquotes and says, “All things work for good?” Or, instead, do we trust God’s Word? In Scripture, we see:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28, emphasis added).
The difference between the views of the world and Scripture can be explained by something Ray Pritchard of Keep Believing Ministries shares. He says these moments force us to consider a fundamental question of life, “Is God good, and can He be trusted to do what is right?”
Pritchard expands on what he calls “The Keyhole Principle” (see here for the original article – a great read):
Said another way, we can’t even imagine all the different ways God is working all things for our own good and his glory. Or we can put it this way: We don’t know what we don’t know.
We are like little children peering through a keyhole. We see a tiny bit, but the rest is hidden from our view. The danger comes in assuming that our “keyhole view” equals the totality of God’s purposes.
What can we learn from this?
1. We won’t understand most things that happen to us or to our loved ones.
2. The understanding we do have will be partial and limited.
3. Some things will baffle us completely.
4. If we get stuck on “understanding” everything, we are bound to be extremely frustrated.
5. Every now and then things will make perfect sense to us. When that happens, we ought to be grateful and even then remember that when we think we know the big picture, we’re still looking through the keyhole of life.
This truth ought to build our faith (“God is at work in my life in 10,000 different ways right now”) and it ought to humble us (“I’m not smart enough to figure out all that God is doing in any particular situation”) and it ought to give us hope (“God knows what he is doing, even when my current situation makes no sense to me”).
Scripture often tells us to pray, intercede, ask, and give thanks (Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1). In James 5:16 (ESV) we are told the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. In the NLT version, it reads “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Again, though, that almost seems to diminish the power of God – unless we understand the God who answers prayers. God makes the provision for our righteousness through Jesus. He is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
But wait, God is working in more ways here.
Pastor Joe McKeever expands on God’s provision as we pray in “Uncomplicating Your Prayers – Just Do It” below:
Prayer is for every child of God.
I love to find insights and encouragements in Scripture about prayer. One of the best is on display in the amazing and rich 8th chapter of Romans, everyone’s “mother lode” of treasures. It’s this…
- Romans 8:26 says that while we do not know how to pray as we should (we smile at the wonderful and honest admission), the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. I have no idea what that is like in the Throne Room of Heaven. But wait…
- Romans 8:34 – just eight verses later – informs us that the Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. So, we have the Spirit and the Son interceding for us. And if that’s not good enough…
- Romans 8:31 – in the midst of these two verses – states that God is for us! (The “if” there means “since.” The apostle, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has just spent 30 verses establishing that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit is/are (take your pick) for us. And then, for the rest of the 8th chapter, he draws conclusions from that.)
So, in that one chapter, Romans 8, we have God in all His Triune greatness on our side, for us, literally more pro-human than any unbelieving liberal on the planet ever dreamed of being. No one has ever done for humanity what our God has done. And He is the One who hears our prayers!
How blessed we are.
The God who answers prayers is the God whose holiness is approachable by a design He provides from and through His Triune being. Yes, we are given some summary points to this mystery but not all of the details of how.
Regardless, giving up our agendas for God’s agenda is never a losing exchange. This is because the God who answers prayers is also the God who cares.
(Editor's Note: "God Has a Gift for You" is the good news that restores the broken relationship we have with God because of our sin.)