God does not need the prayers of His people to do His will. In fact, He has done and still does many things without the accompanying prayers of any of His people. For example, He created the universe without the prayers of anyone. Also, no one can intelligently pray for all that is needed to sustain it in all of its amazing detail. And yet, in God’s wisdom, He has decided to use the conversation He has with His people to accomplish His will, especially His will of salvation. Like a father who delights to work with his child, weak and bumbling as that child is, God has chosen to create a desire to pray for His will in the hearts of His people and then answers their prayers. Perhaps we can better understand this dimension of prayer when we compare it to God’s method of spreading His Word. As in all things, God’s salvation plan is totally in His hands. He does not need the participation of His people to send His gospel into the world. But as an expression of the love He has for His people, He has included them in the joy of spreading His Word. As an expression of the love He has for His people, He works with them in the fields as they plant and water and as He brings the increase. God is wise and powerful enough to do His will without the prayers and efforts of His people. But He is loving enough to patiently use the tools of both His peoples’ prayers and their distribution of His word to build His kingdom and prepare the world for His return. However, we must not think that God is compelled to bring revival in response to a campaign in which many people pray earnestly for a mighty work of God. It is true that God’s children ought to pray because God does respond to and answer the prayers which express the desires of their hearts, as we read in Psalm 37:4. However, the full understanding of that verse is that God gives His children the heart to desire His will and then He fulfills that desire. That is, God always answers prayers in agreement with His own will. Fervent zeal, even for an apparently good purpose, is not a substitute for a knowledge of God’s will. Therefore, rather than insist that, because they have a holy desire, they can expect God to work as they request in their prayers, people who pray must always be concerned about God’s will. “Thy will be done” is more than a pious appendage to prayer. It is an accurate and honest recognition that God knows best, and some of the things He may do will surprise His people. As always, God’s will is done and that is the real desire of God’s people.

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