I recently finished reading this insightful book by Douglas F. Kelly. The book’s title proposes a question that could arise when one is first introduced to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. If God already knows, and further has already decided, then why pray? What is the purpose behind the discipline of prayer?
Kelly offers several compelling reasons for prayer, along with a loose exposition of the Lord’s Prayer.
Before tackling the question of why we should pray though, Kelly begins with a chapter about who God is. He explains both God’s infinite being and his personal nature, explaining that while God is the creator of the universe, he is also our Father, and we can know him as such.
Attention is paid to properly praising God and magnifying him through prayer. Kelly explains that God is sovereign, but has chosen to use prayer as a means of doing several things, foremost, changing us.
Prayer changes us in many ways. It teaches us to rely on God, to thank him, matures our faith, teaches us persistence and shamelessness. He points out that God is more interested in us, than he is in what we are asking about in prayer.
Secondly, prayer changes others. Our prayer have a very real effect when we intercede on behalf of others. That is part of God’s plan.
Some time is spent discussing the topics of fasting, and when God says “No” to our requests.
Other sections of the book deal with how we should pray, expounding as I said earlier on the Lord’s Prayer as our model.
Does the book answer the question presented in the title? Yes, it does, but not in the clear cut way some might wish. The author displays the tension between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility to seek him in prayer. The book does explain the value of a vibrant prayer life to the believer’s ongoing sanctification. Anyone interested in the subject of prayer and the sovereignty of God should take the time to read this book. It might not answer all your questions, but it should provide you with enough motivation to fall to your knees in prayer as you never have before, especially in intercessory prayer.