The way some walk away from our preaching and teaching, we wonder (1) whether we need to pray, since God already has all things planned out, or (2) we have to pray if God is to act–otherwise, He will not.
And so the pendulum swings. When some hear that God has all things planned out, without a balance that Jesus commands us to pray and how this prayer connects us to the will of God which is ordained before the world began, then folks wonder what the point is. Sadly, this lack of balance robs folks of the necessity and the joy of prayer.
Yet, if the pendulum is swung the other way, then God is sitting in heaven waiting on us to give Him the go-sign. God waits for no man to act, for He was acting before the foundations of the world (Psalm 90:1-2; John 1:1-3; Ephesians 1:3-4, etc.).
How do we reconcile this? Spurgeon helps us. Please read closely:
We never regulate our actions by the unknown decrees of God; as for instance, a man never questions whether he shall eat or drink, because it may or may not be decreed that he shall eat or drink; a man never enquires whether he shall work or not on the ground that it is decreed how much he shall do or how little; as it is inconsistent with common sense to make the secret decrees of God a guide to us in our general conduct, so we feel it would be in reference to prayer, and therefore still we pray. But we have a better answer than all this.
Our Lord Jesus Christ comes forward, and he says to us this morning, “My dear children, the decrees of God need not trouble you, there is nothing in them inconsistent with your prayers being heard. ‘I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you.’ ” Now, who is he that says this? Why it is he that has been with the Father from the beginning—”the same was in the beginning with God” and he knows what the purposes of the Father are and what the heart of God is, for he has told us in another place, “the Father himself loveth you.”
Now since he knows the decrees of the Father, and the heart of the Father, he can tell us with the absolute certainty of an eye-witness that there is nothing in the eternal purposes in conflict with this truth, that he that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth. He has read the decrees from the beginning to end: hath he not taken the book, and loosed the seven seals thereof, and declared the ordinances of heaven? He tells you there is nothing there inconsistent with your bended knee and streaming eye, and with the Father’s opening the windows of heaven to shower upon you the blessings which you seek. Moreover, he is himself God: the purposes of heaven are his own purposes, and he who ordained the purpose here gives the assurance that there is nothing in it to prevent the efficacy of prayer. “I say unto you.” O ye that believe in him, your doubts are scattered to the winds, ye know that he heareth your prayer.
So pray, dear children of God.