I am convinced afresh that God uses this opportunity of prayer to change the world I live in. He invites people to talk with Him. He willingly listens to a range of requests, but He pays particular attention to what the Bible says. For instance, God listens for people who would make it their task to ask God to “establish and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7) He has appointed watchmen on the wall to remind Him, to watch and call out for this thing God has promised—which I understand from a whole Bible perspective to mean establishing God’s people as those who draw others into reconciling relationships with the living God, from every geography and vocation and people. I long to be part of that.
We cannot do these things on our own, but God can through us. Earlier in Isaiah the prophet noted how people thought God was not able to accomplish stuff on this earth. But it wasn’t that God was not able to accomplish things, it was that those who called on him were separated from Him because of their own sin (Isaiah 59:1-4). And their requests went unanswered and injustice, falsehood and wickedness held sway. So a clean heart is not optional—and here again I need God’s help. God has also allowed people to pray and ask for strength to resist temptation. To watch—for ourselves and others—so that we don’t succumb to temptation (Mark 14:36ff).
How is it that God has allowed Himself to be turned by the requests of those who give themselves to Him? I’m tempted to be amazed at the power God’s people have, but it isn’t their power at all. It is a relational advantage, certainly, but it is all God’s power. Plus, it is all about accomplishing what God wants to accomplish.
Maybe 2008 is a year to watch and pray. Maybe this is a year to exercise our relational skills with God and ask that He accomplish all He wants to accomplish, using whatever people and circumstances He desires—and offering ourselves for His plans. Not that He waits for permission from us to do that. But if we can be part of the story God wants to tell, we benefit greatly and our lives gather meaning.