The Sanity and Wisdom of Prayer

You pray for the conversion of others.  In what terms, now, do you intercede for them? Do you limit yourself to asking that God will bring them to a point where they can save themselves, independently of him?  I do not think you do.  I think that what you do is to pray in categorical terms that God will, quite simply and decisively, save them: that he will open open the eyes of their understanding, soften their hard hearts, renew their natures, an move their wills to receive the Savior.  You ask God to in them everything necessary for their salvation.  You would not dream of making it a point in your prayer that you are not asking God actually to bring them to faith, because you recognize that that is something he cannot do.  Nothing of the sort!  When you pray for the unconverted people, you do so on the assumption that it is in God’s power to bring them to faith.  You entreat him to do that very thing, and your confidence in asking rests on the certainty that he is able to do what you ask.  And so indeed he is: this conviction, which animates your intercessions, is God’s own truth, written on your heart by the Holy Spirit.  In prayer, then (and the Christian is at his sanest and wisest when he prays), you know that it is God who saves men; you know that what makes men turn to God is God’s own gracious work of drawing them to himself; and the content of your prayers is determined by this knowledge.  Thus, by your practice of intercession, no less than by giving thanks fr your conversion, you acknowledge and confess the sovereignty  of God’s grace.  And so do all Christian people everywhere.

J. I. Packer (1926-), Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 21-22.

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Filed under Applied Theology, Conversion, God, Prayer, Soteriology, Sovereignty, Theology

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