“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19,36:26)
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
I would like to talk about a very perplexing issue to some, that I feel God has given me some enlightenment on. It is simply our need to pray and how that ties in with makind’s freedom to choose. Mankind, as we know, is in a bit of a rut. We look all around us and see that trouble in on “every front” in general, and especially for the person who does not know God. He is stupified. He is desperate. He does not know what to do. Or, he knows what to do but does not choose to do the right thing. Mankind, then, is in a continually failing, degenerating state. No matter how smart he thinks he may be, no matter how “ingenious” to be able to try and “figure things out for himself,” he is nevertheless headed straight for a head-on collision with his future that may well result in his own eternal death, if he is not careful, or, if somebody does not help him.
Now we know that because God is a God of love, he has given mankind a free will. Mankind then, may choose to either freely accept God or reject him — God has left that possibility quite open to him. At the same time, the Bible makes it plain that is not God’s will that “any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (turning away from his sins),” as we read in 2 Peter 3:9. This, then, is the dilemna. How do you bridge the gap between mankind’s general overall decision to reject God, and God’s real desire to see mankind come to him and love him and find eternal life through him alone? How does a loving yet holy God allow man to have his freewill, and yet also see men and women put their faith in Christ who alone has the power to save them? I would propose that the only real way to properly deal with this apparent dilemna must be through that remarkable gift that God has given to each and every one of us, called “prayer.” Specifically, I am referring to intercessory prayer here, or prayer that “stands in the gap,” or “intercedes,” on behalf of another person, so as to be able to help that person when they themselves are too weak to help themselves or to see clearly.
I find intercessory prayer quite a remarkable “tool” (or “gift”) that God has given to us, because through it, God is still somehow able to preserve mankind’s freewill and yet see lost people come to Christ. Remarkable indeed! God somehow uses intercessory prayer powerfully to “turn the hearts” of the people towards him at the same time as preserving their freedom to choose. This, again, I find remarkable! Somehow, through intercessory prayer, God “replaces” the heart of “stone” in that person with a “heart of flesh,” in accordance with his word in the book of Ezekiel, “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19,36:26). The person then, from the spiritual perspective, has a brand new heart, i.e. a brand new desire to serve God, and so “freely chooses” to follow Christ! Awesome! But I fear that it cannot happen without prayer, for we all know that mankind’s general desire is to “build a name for himself” and not for God. This then is what intercessory prayer is all about. It is about appealing to our heavenly Father to move on behalf of those who themselves are too weak, or too troubled, or even too deluded, to be able to see clearly for themselves. Will you pray? Lord, help me to chose to pray, so that others might chose to obey.