There’s a common thought we hear often that goes something like this: “Whatever happens is the will of God,” as if God predetermines all outcomes. The reason we hear that kind of thinking is because of the influence of various religions on our culture. Islam teaches that all that happens is Allah’s decree and, therefore, the essence of piety is to submit to his predetermined plan. The Hindu belief in “karma” makes one’s life a product of actions and thus predetermined. Belief in astrology is belief in a form of determinism. This attitude that whatever happens is always what God wills has crept into the minds of many Christians.
However, the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches a radically different concept. Although God is ultimately sovereign over everything, he is not the author of evil and certain does not predetermine every outcome. God has injected into human life a variable that leaves the future, at least to some degree, in our hands. God has instituted prayer to give his creatures the dignity of causality.
John wrote: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
John is urging us to ask God to intervene in our lives so that the future has his divine stamp on it. He is not asking us to passively submit to a predetermined fate, but rather encouraging us to ask God to make things different. I.e., prayer changes things! Three times in two short verses John exhorts us to “ask … ask … ask.”
Asking God to intervene is the rule in the Kingdom of God. In Scripture, over and over and over again God encourages us to ask, to seek and to knock. Remember this prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses. Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil.”
The reason we pray is to call on God to intervene and change our situation so that it has a better outcome! So, … ASK! Remember these words from John Newton:
Thou art coming to a King
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.