I’ve often wondered what the deal is with prayer. Does God really need me to tell him that something bad is going on somewhere and he needs to fix it? For instance, last night I prayed for China. I want the Chinese communist party to fall and to fade quietly into history. Why does God want me to pray for something that he obviously already knows needs to be done?
I think it has to do with the will. God gives us free will. That means he does not impose his will upon us, no matter what. It is not His will that the communists ignore human rights. However, He will not stop them by himself because it is their will to do it. Where prayer comes in, perhaps, is that God substitutes our will for theirs. That is, he applies our good will to counter their evil will. That is, he takes our prayers and speaks them to their heart so that internally, spiritually, they will change their hearts and allow our will, which is in line with God’s, to be done.
For instance, how could the Chinese party go away quietly without a war? Perhaps they could go like the Soviet Union went. Pope John Paul and Reagan played essential roles, but the one person who possibly had the most effect was a little old lady who was already dead at the time. Gorbachev’s grandmother. You see, she secretly had him baptized when he was a baby.
An argument can certainly be made that Gorbechev’s experience with Christianity placed upon his heart a will that respected the rights of Christians. Since it was already his will.
The way that the Chinese communist party could fall is through the prayers of the people to change the hearts of the communists. If their hearts are changed, they will repent. BTW, this is exactly what my book Refreshing Jutta is about.