This morning I learned once again the wonderful balance of Scripture that is ours when we read it on a daily basis-the way that daily immersion in the Word keeps us from falling off Martin Luther's proverbial mule, either to the one side or to the other.
I had started leaning hard on the "side" that God is so sovereign that my prayers are nice but not so essential. That turns out to be wrong thinking. And just a little leaven of the wrong kind does much harm in the end. Before you know it, I would have sloughed off into a fairly prayerless life if I had kept on in that direction without undergoing a correction.
But this morning I happened to read Romans 15, which in part reads:
"I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service to Jerusalem my be acceptable to the saints …" (verses 30-31).
Here is Paul-full of the Spirit, and if any man in town was ever walking in God's blessing it was he-pleading for prayer, seemingly reluctant to make a move without it. This is no polite or pro forma request. This is a man who understands that though God is sovereign, and though He always acts for His own glory, yet somehow He acts according to our praying.
We must conclude that there are some things that simply will not happen if we do not bother to pray. If these people in Rome do not pray for Paul-if they take the attitude that God is sovereign and that this means we don't need to knock ourselves out to petition Him-it is possible that Paul will not "be delivered from unbelievers in Judea," and it is possible that his "service to Jerusalem" will not be acceptable. You and I are movers of history, by the fearful permission of God.
There are two lessons here for me this morning: one is the importance of prayer, the other is the importance of the continual fine-tuning and correction of Scripture, gained only by daily feeding-to keep us sitting up straight on that old mule of Martin's.