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Today's Bible Q&A with John MacArthur

From the desk of John MacArthur

John MacArthur

Dear Friend,

If God controls everything and has already determined the outcome of every event, what good is it asking Him to do—or not to do—anything? Why do we pray?

I know many, many sincere believers struggle with that question. They believe God always acts for the good of His children. They believe He has the power to heal a loved one, grant salvation to an unbelieving spouse or friend, supply wisdom for an important decision, and meet any physical or spiritual need.

But because God is sovereign and has already determined to accomplish what is best, they struggle to pray. Or worse, they hardly struggle at all—they neglect prayer out of laziness, and chalk it up to their confidence in God’s sovereignty.

It grieves me when any believer sees the doctrine of God’s sovereignty as a deterrent to a healthy, vibrant prayer life. That mindset demonstrates an inadequate and incomplete understanding of both God’s sovereignty and prayer. 

The very act of praying is an implicit acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty over every circumstance. Scripture invites us to pray for whatever we want—and prayers for God to change our circumstances are by no means declared off limits. In fact, the Bible has many examples where people prayed and God did change their circumstances. Of course, when circumstances do change in response to our praying, that proves that what we’ve prayed for was God’s sovereign plan all along—and in granting specific answers to our specific prayers, God receives the glory. Still, the principle is true: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

That brings to mind another vital reason to pray: We pray because we are commanded to. What’s more, God repeatedly promises to answer our prayers—so He obviously has no concerns about His sovereignty negating our need to pray.

And consider this: Jesus Christ, who understood God’s sovereignty more than anyone who ever walked the earth, prayed. And He prayed. And prayed. Obviously, if Jesus considered prayer essential, so should we.

Because we trust that God sovereignly responds to the prayers of His people, I want to invite you to pray for Grace to You in these specific ways. First, please remember to pray for the men and women we reach with God’s truth. Every day we’re encouraging people with clear teaching from God’s Word. Many believers look to us as their only consistent source of Bible teaching. And each day we introduce countless unbelievers to scriptural truth for the first time.

I would also ask you to pray for God’s provision for this ministry. We rely on what He provides through His people for our financial needs. We’re committed to keeping our expenses to a minimum, and to using our resources—really, His resources—in the wisest ways possible. We’re able to preach God’s truth on radio and television, and can offer Scripture-exalting resources free by mail and Internet, only because of the faithful and generous support of friends like you.

Know that you are an answer to that ongoing prayer for God’s provision—you become part of His provision—by giving. Thank you for helping make an eternal impact in the lives of the people our ministry is reaching, both in your area and around the world. Thanks for your commitment to biblical truth, and for your active role in bringing verse-by-verse Bible teaching to men and women who need it.

May God continue to bless our efforts together and open new doors to reach more people with His Word.

Love in the Truth,

John MacArthur

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