God’s primary objective is a world in which free agents love God and one another. For this to be possible, people need a stable environment and freely chosen, irrevocable, morally responsible say-so. Prayer is simply the spiritual side of our morally responsible say-so. We influence things by what we do through our bodies and in our communication with God.
More specifically, God’s most important goal in creation is for humans to enter into a personal relationship with him. Relationships and communication are two sides of the same coin. We relate to others only as we communicate with them and they communicate with us. Hence, it makes sense for God to design a world that strongly encourages our communication with him. He conditions what he will do and what happens in the world on the basis of whether or not his people align their hearts with his in prayer. He designed a world so that a great deal of it revolves around and hinges on our communication with him.
God designed the world not only so he will influence us but also that we might influence him. If we pray, things that should get done may get done. If we don’t, these things will not get done. Just as the outcome of events genuinely hangs in the balance of our morally responsible decisions and behavior on a physical level, so too on a spiritual level. Our prayer really does make a difference!
We may think of prayer as the central way our God-intended place of authority is restored. Because God is relational and his central goal for creation is love, almost everything he does is through mediators. God’s specific goal for humans from the start was to have us mediate his loving lordship over the earth. He created us to have dominion over the world (Gen 1:26-31). The NT declares that God wants a bride who will reign with him on earth (2 Tim 2:12). For this reason, God gives us say-so not just on a physical level but also on a spiritual level. He empowers us to pray.
We may think of prayer as an essential aspect of our co-reigning with God. He wants his will carried out on earth, but he wants it carried out in cooperation with us. Thus to a significant degree, God’s reign is applied on the earth only when we are co-reigning with him by agreeing with him in prayer.
God’s will is like a business check that must be cosigned in order to be validated. We the church are the cosigning party and prayer is our signature. (This illustration comes from Paul Billheimer, Destined for the Throne.). Hence the essence of prayer is, as Jesus taught, to align our will with the Father’s so that his rule is established on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 6:10). In prayer we begin our eternal job of mediating the Father’s will and reigning with Christ on earth.
—Adapted from Is God to Blame? pages 129-130