I have been battling with the question for some time. Then I saw this great explanation on a church friend’s Facebook. I share it gladly in the hope that you too will understand why we should pray even if God knows everything anyway.
People say, “Well, he’s praying and praying and he’s saying ultimately God do whatever You’re going to do anyway. Why pray?” This is always the tension. I think, and I was reading this just last week, that Dr. Barnhouse had a great illustration to convey something of the relationship between our prayers and God’s sovereignty and will. Listen to what he writes.
We will suppose the case of a man who loves violin music. Okay? He has the means to buy for himself a very fine violin and he also purchases the very best radio he can buy. He builds a library of the great musical scores so that he is able to take any piece that is announced on the radio, put it on his music stand and play along with the orchestra.
The announcer says that Mr. Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are going to play Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. The man in his home puts the symphony on his stand, tunes his violin with what he hears coming from the orchestra. The music that comes from the radio we might call foreordained. Ormandy is going to follow the score just as Beethoven wrote it. The man in his living room starts to scratch away at the first violin part.
He misses beats, he loses his place, he finds it again, he breaks a string, he stops to fix it, but the music goes on and on. He finds his place again and plays on after his fashion till the symphony is ended.
The announcer names the next work that is to be played and the fiddler puts that number on his rack. And day after day and week after week and month after month and year after year, he finds pleasure in scraping his fiddle along with the violins of the great orchestra. Their music is determined in advance. What he must do is to learn to play in their tempo, in their key and to follow the score as its been written in advance. If he decides that he wants to play “Yankee Doodle” when the orchestra is in the midst of a Brahms number, there’s going to be dissonance and discord in the man’s house. But not in the Academy of Music.
After some years of this, the man may be a rather creditable violin player and may have learned to submit himself utterly to the scores that are written and follow the program as played.
Harmony and joy come from the submission and cooperation.
Then Barnhouse says this, “So it is with the plan of God, it is rolling toward us unfolding day by day as He has planned it before the foundation of the world. There are those who fight against it and ultimately are cast into outer darkness because he will not have in His heaven those who probably resist Him. This cannot be tolerated anymore than the authorities would permit a man to bring his own violin into the Academy of Music and start to play Shostakovich when the program called for Bach. The score of God’s plan is set forth in the Bible and in the measure that I learn it, submit myself to it and lived…or seek to live in accordance with it, I shall find myself in joy and in harmony with God and His plans. If I set myself to fight against it or disagree with that which comes forth, there can be no peace in my heart and life. If in my heart I seek to play a tune that is not melody the Lord has for me, there will be nothing but dissonance.
Prayer is learning to play the same tune that the eternal God plays and to play it the way the eternal composer wrote it and meant it to be played.”
Maybe that helps you. God’s sovereignty puts out the foreordained tune to be played. Prayer is learning to play in tune. But even when we’re out of tune, it doesn’t mess up the celestial orchestra. Fortunately we hear them but they apparently don’t hear us when we’re out of line.