A gathering of believers are present in a church as they prepare their hearts for the blessed service ahead. The pastor of the congregation asks for everyone to join him as he recites the Lord’s Prayer. The believers, most of them having this prayer already instilled in their memory, are ready to do so. To their shock, the pastor begins praying something no believer in the church building had ever heard in their walk with Christ:
Our Father, which art in Heaven,
Limited be thy Name
My Kingdom come.
My will be done on earth,
As it is in done Heaven.
Give me today everything that I want.
Don’t bother forgiving my trespasses,
Because I can forgive myself.
And I wont be led to temptation,
Because I am just awesome.
For mine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
all belongs to me.
I have good news: thanks be to God, no true pastor would dare turn the most sacred prayer ever spoken, recorded, or written into something reeking of heresy such as what you just read. However, there is a theory that has plagued the Christian faith and it goes against every doctrinal viewpoint written in the Holy Scriptures, every theological aspect covered by intelligent Bible teachers throughout the history of the Church, and every church pulpit across the world. The notion could possibly drive many Christians to the point of reshaping the Lord’s Prayer so that it would fit the modern theological framework. It is this idea: God is handcuffed. In other words, God can only do what you allow Him to do.
In the 18th century, there was Anglican priest by the name of John Wesley, who would later go on to be the father of the Methodist Church and a crucial figure for the Holiness Movement. Now Wesley was correct on issues such the abolition of slavery; however, he was 100% wrong when it came to soteriology. There are times when I read Wesley’s sermons and writings and I question whether he read his Bible or not. One of his most well known quotes concerns the sovereignty of God: “It seems God is limited by our prayer life. God can do nothing for man unless someone asks Him.”
Another figure associated with Christianity who believes in this idea is Bill Johnson, the founder of Bethel Church, the Jesus Culture movement, and the New Apostolic Reformation. He is a major Word of Faith/Charismatic figure, so it is not surprising when in one sermon that Johnson preached he said, “He [God] comes at our invitation because He gave the dominion to us.” He also says, “Many of the great saints in history believed that God’s hands were so called handcuffed because God only acts on our behalf.” This kind of understanding is not built on any biblical principle, nor is it built upon any logical reason.
The basis for this idea comes from the passage in Isaiah 45:11 (ESV) which says, “Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?” After reading this verse, many believe that God wants us to command Him and to invite Him to do great things, because we are supposed to ask Him to do great things. Supposedly, if we don’t ask then He won’t act. Is this what the passage teaches though? Is this truly what God is trying to say? Perhaps it is best to look at the passage as a whole.
In context, Isaiah 45:9-13 (ESV) has deeper implications: ” “Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’ Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: ‘Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level.'” The point that God was trying to make was not that people should command Him, but the opposite. People should realize that God is in control and that He will do what He wants according to His sovereign will.
The Lord said that there is great woe on children who question their father’s will. God is our Father. So, where does the idea that we should command, convince, or manipulate God come from? God’s hands are not handcuffed. It is made very clear in the passage that God created the world and stretched out the heavens. He commands everything, and He is sovereign in salvation. God does not need our help for Him to do anything. He does not rely on anyone’s prayers to do what He wants.
Could you imagine if God were to act only if we were to allow Him to? No one could come to salvation since it is not the will of man that causes a person to be saved, but the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no possible way that someone in history would have ever prayed the following:
Remember how we rebelled against you and we became dead in our sins? Well…can you send your beloved Son so that He might become our righteousness. You can do it in a way where He dies a horrible death. Make it crucifixion. Oh, and while I’m at it, can you let me and the guys write a book? I’ve always wanted to be a prophet or an apostle. Before I finish, I want you to only predestine some people to salvation because that makes sense for a human being and not for a God like you who relies on me to do everything. Let me know if you need any advice.
Thanks God! Have a good afternoon!
That prayer has never been uttered, for we can not understand the will of God to its full extent and neither can we influence God’s behavior. It is only because of God that we can ask for godly things, through the regeneration and repentance that follows. In short, God will not be controlled by His own creation. A Greek fable once said, “Chains are for slaves, not gods.” It seems as if maybe pagans had a better understanding of God than some Christians who have seen what God is capable of. Everyone must understand that God is sovereign and His will is perfect. His rule is not so that we might get the most comfort in our earthly state, but so that He will attain glory through the redemption of His adopted children. May we always remember the earnest words that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, prayed during His walk on earth:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory. Forever and ever.
Soli Deo Gloria.