Our Prayers and God’s Eternal Purpose
The earliest prayer in the Bible was no doubt an intimate dialogue of Adam and Eve conversing with God “in the cool of the day” in the Garden of Eden. By the time of the closing verses of Genesis 4, however, one of their beloved sons, Cain, and their descendants through him had separated themselves far from God by their sins and by their iniquities. Marriage had been dishonored, violence and murder had been committed and many inventions such as building trades, crafts, music, and cattle breeding had shoved the knowledge of God far into the background.
Gen 4:25-26 “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.”
What caused this abrupt change? Why did men suddenly begin to pray? Why do we pray and how can we insure that our prayers fit into God’s eternal purpose?
At the birth of her son, Seth, there was a consciousness in Eve’s heart that this child was appointed by God to replace Abel, who had been a righteous man, the one who by faith had brought to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Abel had pleased God by coming to Him in true worship. The birth of Seth, then, seems to have been a pivotal turning point, for when Seth married and had a son, he called, his name Enos. Enos means ‘mortal man.’ His name seems to be an acknowledgment that man, despite his accomplishments and ingenuity, is but flesh; he is weak, frail, mortal, feeble, and miserable. Along with this consciousness of his undone condition came a revelation of the name of the LORD; thus man began to call upon Him in prayer. This was the same LORD who had communed with Adam and Eve, who had testified of Abel’s sacrifice and who had ordained Seth to take the place of that righteous man, Abel.
When a certain psalmist uttered a word of certainty centuries later under the inspiration of the Spirit, “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come,” he must have had some insight into the truth that by coming unto God, all flesh could be restored; all mankind could be brought back from sin, receive forgiveness, be given a sense of intrinsic worth, and experience a vital, meaningful relationship with his Creator.
In Enos’ day, all flesh had witnessed the sad effects of transgression in the lives of near and distant relatives and people were ready for a change. “Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.”
A couple years ago, U.S. News teamed up with the Internet site Beliefnet on a survey to learn more about why, how, where, and when people devote time to prayer. There were more than 5000 responses from people who termed themselves ‘Christians’. Interestingly, nearly three-fourths of those who said their prayers were not answered, believe that the main reason was because their prayers did not fit into God’s purpose, which, as a large percentage of respondents reported, is intimacy with God.
This agrees with the reasoning of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who said, “Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.” In Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 6, the phrase “our Father who art in heaven” suggests this intimacy, or closeness with God. It is on the basis of this kind of relationship with Him that we can pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
The ultimate purpose of prayer, then, is to align ourselves with the will of our heavenly Father who longs to have His kingdom come in power and be established in all the earth. If we think prayer is for us, we’ve missed the point. The reason we ought to pray and the reason God answers prayer is to put His glory on display. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”
* When we pray for someone who’s not saved and God draws that person to, himself, it isn’t for our sake he does it, it’s to confirm his will that “all men everywhere might be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.”
* When we have a physical or a financial need and we pray and God meets that need, it isn’t so we can boast about our “fill in the blank check” relationship with him; it is so we will stand in awe of our Father and glorify his holy name.
His glory is the issue. So when we pray, let us do so with the understanding that we’re not informing God; He already knows everything. We’re not overcoming His reluctance; we are participating in His willingness. Prayer is neither badgering God, irritating Him, nor conning Him; it is submitting ourselves as subjects of His kingdom to carry out His eternal will and purpose.
* It is not to get what we want, but to give Him what He wants.
* It is not to convince God to change His mind, but for us to have the mind of Christ.
* It is not to have our will done in heaven, but to prepare us to do His will in earth.
This article “Our Prayer’s and God’s Eternal Purpose” by James Bigelow was excerpted from Apostolic Accent magazine. Page 11. January 2011. It may be used for study & research purposes only.