Romans 10:10-13, “10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Now that we are nearing the end of the Heidelberg Catechism’s exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, it will be helpful to address some questions about the power of prayer: Why do we think that our prayers will be effective at all? What confidence do we have that God hears us and acts in our behalf when we pray?
These simple questions are worth asking in light of the various views of prayer in our world. For example, Buddhists “pray,” but since their view of God is ultimately impersonal, how can prayers to the Buddha as a means to increase one’s compassion be effective? Since there is ultimately no personal being to hear and respond to prayer, how is Buddhist prayer anything other than an exercise in futility? To bring it closer to home, there are many evangelical Christians who pray but have a deficient view of the sovereignty of the Lord. Such believers affirm that God is in control of all things—except human free will. Yet if the Lord is not sovereign over human decision-making, how can He answer our prayers for a friend’s salvation or for others to show us favor? Only a robust view of divine sovereignty gives us the confidence that the Lord hears and answers prayer, and this is the view assumed throughout Scripture.
We do not find “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever” in either version of the Lord’s Prayer as given in Scripture (Matt. 6:9–13; Luke 11:1–4). Instead, church tradition has bequeathed this conclusion to us for use in liturgical and devotional recitation and modeling of the prayer. There is good reason for this, for whether we are reciting the Lord’s Prayer verbatim or using it as the structure for our own prayers, we need to be reminded that we do not utter wishful thinking when we pray to the Father in Jesus’ name; rather, we call upon the One who has the power to act.
Because the kingdom of all creation belongs to Him (Ps. 103:19), God has the authority to bring about by divine fiat whatever we ask for according to His will. Since the Lord made the heavens and the earth by His “outstretched arm,” nothing is too difficult for Him (Jer. 32:17). Consequently, He has the power to do all His holy will, and nothing can thwart His eternal intent. To Him alone belongs the glory, glory that all will one day acknowledge (Isa. 66:18–19). Thus, we know that He will give us what we ask for in prayer when it contributes to the final and full realization of His glory in creation.
Answer 128 of the Heidelberg Catechism reminds us that the Father is “both willing and able to give us all that is good” that He might “receive all the praise, forever.” We should not doubt the goodness of God, nor His purpose to advance His glory in all the earth. When we come to Him in faith, we can be confident that He will do whatever is best for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). This is what He has promised.