I often wonder, when watching sports, what happens when both teams pray to God for victory. Does the team with the most faith or those closest to God with the least amount of sin in their life have their prayer answered? It’s also interesting to hear when someone is interviewed after a sports win that they give credit to God, however, do they recognize God as well when they lose?
God gives us strength and abilities; in fact, the very breath we breathe is a gift from God. God is sovereign, omnipresent, and omnipotent. However, He is not omnicausal, meaning there is a measure of free will at play. Christian denominations like to debate over the level of free will we have as humans, but the truth is that we will never fully understand the interplay between God’s sovereignty and our free will.
What would happen if a sports team stayed on the bench and did not participate in the game after they prayed for God to give them victory? A guaranteed loss, of course! Praying is not an escape from our responsibilities. Praying should align us with God’s will. The truth is that we will not be able to control everything. In the areas where we need a miraculous intervention from God, it is ok to ask. We can come boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) and present our requests to God with prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6).
If my children asked me for a trip to Disneyland, it is my power to grant that. They do not have the funds or the transportation to get there on their own. However, if my children asked me to clean their rooms, I would promptly clarify that they have it within their power to clean their room and that it should be done sooner than later instead of trying to get someone else to do it for them!
Reading the book of Joshua, it is clear that God gave the Israelites victory, and yet they still had to go through the battle. The Israelites had casualties in battle and often would lose their blessings if they did not follow the commands of God (see the story of Achan in Joshua 7). If the Israelites stayed where they were or did not march around Jericho 7 times in obedience to God, they would not receive the victory God promised. God also placed a limit on the victory He gave them because of disobedience. We learn in Judges 2:3 that God did not drive out the remaining inhabitants of the land in order to test Israel because Israel preferred to intermingle and intermarry instead of being set apart as God commanded.
It’s important that we stay the course in areas God has already directed us to be in. We don’t need a new revelation from God every day when our objective is to “stay the course.” God will usually make it clear if we listen when the time comes that we need to move. In areas that we can control with our time and talent, we should look to be a Godly influence to those around us. You don’t need to pray IF you should give, but HOW MUCH you should give!
We can ask for prayer and strength, but often God will not remove the battle from us.
For example, a health challenge. God may heal through a doctor; I believe God still heals miraculously today as well. Even if we have to go through treatments and surgery, God deserves all the glory. God has the right to do what He wants and when He wants without our complaining. Our life is not our own, and the more we hold on tightly to it without giving everything to God, the harder it will be when we lose control… because we never had it to begin with.
God loves to give good gifts to His children as well and wants to partner with us to do according to His will. Don’t neglect prayer; it is vital and the best way we can align our will with God’s. When God does take you through victory, do not be silent on giving Him the glory, for all glory is His and His alone!