“If God is sovereign, then why pray?” Most Christians at some point have wrestled through this question. It’s natural, right? If God is in control, then why does he need my prayers? If He has already decreed the way things will be, then what are my prayers actually accomplishing? There are certainly answers to these questions, not the least of which is simply that God commands prayer. That should be reason enough. Besides that, the Bible gives us so much insight into prayer and the effects it has. Prayer produces joy for the Christian (Jn 16.24), prayer honors God as the giver (Ps 50.15), and prayer helps to protect us from sin (Mt 26.41). Prayer is essential but not so God’s hands may be untied. Believers benefit from prayer and ultimately God is honored through prayer.
There is another angle on prayer that I would like for you to consider. Have you ever wondered: “If God is NOT sovereign, then WHY would we pray?” Think about it. Prayer assumes sovereignty. You ask God because you believe He can do something about the situation. You pray that God would heal — because you think He can control bacteria and immune systems. You pray for someone to be converted — because you believe God saves and He is able to send someone with the gospel. You pray for safe travels — because you believe God is in control of the roads (which means He controls the people on those roads).
There are many presuppositions packed into a simple request. Indeed, you already believe in sovereignty, otherwise you would not pray at all. In Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J. I. Packer says it well: “The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgment of helplessness and dependence.” He goes on to say: “In effect, therefore, what we do every time we pray is to confess our own impotence and God’s sovereignty. The very fact that a Christian prays is thus proof positive that he believes in the Lordship of his God.”
God has given you access to Him in prayer. Enjoy His Lordship and remember the words of 1 Peter 5.7: “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”