October 21, 2017

God’s Plans & Our Prayers

Thomas Overmiller

We ask many questions about the correlation between God’s plans and our prayers. Our answers to these questions can easily step off the knife-edge balance of Bible truth into reasonable logic or a defense of a particular theological system. Stepping back away from the finer points of this debate and taking in the big picture, I find that God looks for me to partner with Him in prayer to accomplish His plans for this world. I make this observation based upon Daniel 9:1-3:

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.

Let me share some lessons that I find in this passage which help me to understand the correlation between God’s plans and my prayers.

Daniel studied the promises of God.

First, I find that Daniel studied the promises of God. Do you? He investigated what God said and then conscientiously and prayerfully applied what God said to his individual life situation. What promise did He investigate? Daniel 9:2 refers to a particular guarantee that God presented to Jeremiah the prophet—almost seventy years earlier. You can find this promise described in both Jeremiah 25:11-2 and Jeremiah 29:10-11. God promised to restore the nation of Israel nationally and spiritually after seventy years as prisoners of war. Daniel recognized that seventy years were nearly fulfilled and this motivated him to pray.

Daniel prayed according to the promises of God.

Second, I find that Daniel prayed according to the promises of God. Do you? He turned his attention to God, not circumstances, and He asked God to intervene, based upon His promises. He was not content merely to accept God’s providential oversight of history, prophecy, and people. He did not assume that since God had prophesied an end to their captivity that this end would automatically occur. Instead, he focused His attention on God in a deliberate and volitional manner. And he not only prayed, but he prayed and fasted. This concentrated, wholehearted praying was exactly the response that God desired. How do I know this? Jeremiah 29:12-14 (following the promise cited earlier) clearly states that God intended for the Israelites to turn to him and pray to him with all of their heart. Daniel responded to this expectation in genuine, faith-filled obedience.

James Montgomery Boice shares some very helpful observations on this subject of the correlation between God’s promised plans and our responsibility to pray. He says:

There are misguided Calvinists who would conclude in such situations that since God had decreed three more years of captivity and a return to Jerusalem after that, there would therefore be nothing they could do. They could only sit back and let God work. Daniel knew better than that. He knew that although God certainly works according to his own plans and timetable, he nevertheless does this through people—through their acts and attitudes, and particularly their prayers.[1]

When God promises something, I need to pray (and even fast) before that thing which has been promised will occur. He looks for us to partner with Him in prayer to accomplish His plans. If sin must be confessed, then I must do it. I must do whatever it takes to pray effectively for the promise to be fulfilled. God answers prayer, and He answers prayer according to His promises. It is incumbent upon me to cooperate earnestly with God’s plans through my prayers. What burdens do you have in your life for restoration, deliverance, and revival? Go to the Word of God and strengthen your faith in His promises. Then pray according to His promises with all seriousness and desire. God answers that kind of praying.


Thomas Overmiller serves as pastor for Faith Baptist Church in Corona, NY.

This article was first published here and is used by permission.

  1. James Montgomery Boice, Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 97–98. []


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