My three year old son has an adversary. She’s redheaded, immature, easily excitable, really fun, slobbery, and super annoying when she wants to play. His adversary also happens to be our golden retriever, Lois.
In typical first born fashion, my son wants to be in charge, and Lois is an easy target. “Lois, get off my toys! Lois, stop hitting me with your tail! Lois, stop barking! Lois, stop breathing on me!” The funny thing is Lois doesn’t pay attention to him at all. She just keeps doing what she’s doing as though he isn’t shouting at the top of his lungs right in her unimpressed face.
It’s not that she doesn’t understand him; I think she finds pleasure in doing the opposite of what he says. When he yells “Move!” she stares past him, just wagging her tail like she’s enjoying herself at the beach. Or if he screams, “Stay!” she suddenly has the urge to slowly mosey somewhere else with that dull, blank, drooping jowls, older dog look . . . “Yeah, right kid.”
Two plain truths can be seen from a simple reading of the Bible: God can do whatever he wants. And God asks us to do things.
These two truths make me ask, “Why does God ask for help if he doesn’t need it?” At first glance it seems one of these two truths must be false for the other to be true. If God can do whatever he wants on his own power, then clearly he must not ask us to do things for him. Or, if God does ask us to do things for him, clearly he must not be able to do things on his own.
So which is it? Does God need our help?
When we begin to learn about God’s sovereignty, the temptation is to turn into the “frozen chosen” who use God’s power as an excuse to be lazy. If God is in total control of everything, why pray at all?
Certainly this is a multi layered question that could be talked about endlessly in the theological classroom. The more pressing concern is when the idea of God’s sovereignty hinders your prayer life in a very negatively practical way. This is not what God wants.
So to answer the question, “Why pray if God is Sovereign?”, perhaps a counter question will help us see the Bible’s answer: “Why would you pray if God wasn’t sovereign?”