Daniel 4.33-35, Acts 15.18
Petitionary Prayer and Divine Sovereignty
Posted: 29 June 2010 in Acts, Daniel

The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

As Nebuchadnezzar is here reminded, God’s rule is absolute, and he rules with the intention of bringing his plans for the universe to fulfillment. Furthermore, Acts 15.18 is a reminder that God’s will is unchanging, and that it has not changed since the foundation of the world.

This clearly has implications for petitionary prayer. We cannot expect that our prayer will cause God to amend the plans he has had in place since the beginning of creation. Although petitionary prayer is different in form from those acts of devotion which are more explicitly worship and praise, that is, in fact, what it must be: i.e. worship with an unspoken, “Thy will be done,” as the subtext. Thy will be done is, in fact, the only form of petitionary prayer which is always sure to be answered in the affirmative. We can perhaps expect to receive some comfort from a merciful God if the fulfillment of his will is going to bring us pain, but for the rest we must be prepared to wait upon his will.

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Petitionary Prayer and Divine Sovereignty

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