Why Prayer Does Not Move God and What Does

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May 18, 2018

Genesis 1:14-19

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

CONSIDER THIS

We see another pattern playing out through these days of Creation.

13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

First, I find it interesting we tend to think of days as running from morning to evening. The bible says days run from evening to morning. In other words, the biblical day does not begin with a sunrise but a sunset. With God, day begins with night. God does not sleep. When we go to sleep, God goes to work. We awaken into the work of God in progress.

Wandering Israel went to bed. God went to work. They awakened to manna already on the ground. There is a word concerning prayer here. To pray is never to initiate the work of God or to somehow move God to act. God is the initiator, always working. Our praying is always a response to God’s prior initiative. In fact, prayer is the most ready (if not the only) pathway into the activity of God. We often say in our work with New Room, “Prayer is not the only thing we do, but it is the first thing.”

13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

It’s interesting it doesn’t say day and night, but evening and morning. Also fascinating is the way evening and morning have been the appointed times of prayer throughout all the ages, from Israel to the present day Church.

Many believe God is moved by our prayers. It is the gateway to idolatry; the tragic notion that we can somehow determine the activity of God. God is not moved by prayer but by love. In fact, prayer is the great school of love; where we experience the movements of the Gospel—from God to self, from self to God and with God to others.

I like the way E.M. Bounds said it, “God shapes the world by prayer. The prayers of God’s saints are the capitol stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon the earth.”

A further word about chaos and prayer. Because to pray is to love, prayer means entering into and even embracing the chaos. While we might say prayers about given chaotic situation, we are only truly praying to the extent we are willing to claim the chaos. This is why prayer is a costly thing.

To tell another person, “I’ll be praying for you,” is a serious thing. It is not sitting passively and sympathetically on the outside, speaking words to God on their behalf. Rather, it means something more like, “I will stand with Jesus for you in the midst of the chaos.” Real praying is not human-inspired sympathy but Spirit-empowered empathy.

The great Adoniram Judson Gordon said it best, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” 

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now.  You have claimed our chaos, and day by day you are sorting it out. Draw me into this work and bring my praying into alignment with yours. Increase my praying not by the strength of my own commitment and determination, but by the power of your love. Right here, Jesus. Right now Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. How often do you tell someone you are praying or will pray for them? How often do you really do it?
  2. What do you think about the statement, “God is not moved by prayer but by love”? How does prayer figure into this?
  3. How might this evening to morning movement influence and even inspire your prayer practices?

P.S. Join me at noon central time today on the Seedbed Daily Text Facebook Group where I will be making a special announcement about an opportunity coming in 2019 that I hope some of you will be interested in. See the link just below to get there.

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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1 COMMENT

  1. “Prayer is the great school of love” has been tumbling around in my heart (and head) over and over in the weeks since I’ve read this. Thank you for all these wise and challenging ideas.

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