where God is in it all. But God moves in mysterious ways that we will never fully understand. But, if God could use Herod, Pontius Pilate and the baying mob on Good Friday to accomplish his purpose, he won’t have a problem with the antics of BoJo, Jezza, Trump and Putin! God’s purposes will never be frustrated whatever we or our leaders do. Rather, God will use what is happening to accomplish his purposes.
Thy kingdom come
When we pray, are we praying to the God we believe to be in charge? Or have we slipped into thinking that what we see going on in the world is outside God’s control and we pray, hoping that God, amidst all the injustice and chaos, just might be able to help a bit if we’re lucky? If we see prayer as a way of getting God to fulfil our wishes or to get him involved in our plans, however meritorious they may seem to us to be, then we are likely to be disappointed as often as not. It’s not that God is uninterested in our welfare, far from it, as Jesus put it, ‘even the very hairs of your head are numbered.’ But our wishes, our plans shouldn’t be our priority. As Jesus says in his Sermon on the Mount: ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteous- ness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’
In the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,’ comes before, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ So, let the core of our prayers reflect that of the very first prayer of the church: ‘Sovereign Lord, creator of everything, Lord of history, embolden us play our part in fulfilling your purposes and to speak your Word with boldness.’
Increasingly today, all of life is seen as an accident of history. The universe is a happy accident: the big bang, evolution, natural selection. Life has no meaning; it’s the product of chance. History has no trajectory; no purpose. The Bible sees things very differently.
Is God in control of events?
In the earliest recorded prayer of a Christian church (Acts 4: 23-30), the church begins by acknowledging that the creator God is responsible for all that exists and all that happens.
In the Old Testament, events in human history are portrayed as within God’s purposes, albeit that what was going on was often disastrous. That’s not to say that every individual decision and action is as God would ideally like, rather that whatever people do, God’s purposes won’t be frustrated.
That first prayer continues with the church affirming its belief in God’s sovereignty in the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. Herod, Pilate, the gentiles, the Jerusalem mob all conspired against Jesus, God’s anointed one. It looked as though they’d succeeded, as Jesus dies on a Roman cross.
But they hadn’t succeeded. They failed, and not only had they failed, they were unwittingly caught up in God’s purposes: ‘They did what your power and your will had decided would happen,’ the church prays before asking God for boldness in proclaiming the good news of Jesus, whatever might be going on in the world around them.
What of today?
This country and so much of the world seems to be in a mess. It’s easy to despair and wonder