… until men pray, there are some things which God cannot do through them. … The souls who have ushered in new eras of spiritual life have never been content with working for God. They have made it their ideal to let God work through them.
So these greater servants of God have not thought chiefly of what they could do for God, but of what God could do through them if they gave him opportunity. To be pliable in the hands of God was their first aim. Never to be unresponsive to his will for them was their supreme concern.
The ideal of such living is deeper than working for God. To release the Eternal Purpose through their lives into the world; to be made a vehicle for power which they do not create but can transmit–this is their ideal.
(When one) prays in order that he may release through his life what God wishes done, he has discovered the great secret. Through him, habitually praying, God can do what else would be impossible.
We have, then, two fundamentally opposed ideas of prayer: one, that by begging we may change the will of God and curry favor or win gifts by coaxing; the other, that prayer is offering God the opportunity to say to us, give to us, and do through us what he wills. Only the second is Christian. At once we see that the second (way of prayer) makes prayer not a form but a force. Prayer really does things. It cannot change God’s intention, but it does change God’s action. God had long intended Isaiah to be his prophet. When Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me,” he did not alter in the least the divine purpose, but he did release it. God could do then what before he could not.
No one can set clear limits to this release of divine power which the effectual prayer of a righteous man can accomplish.
– Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Meaning of Prayer, 1920
Let thy work appear unto thy servants,
and thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us:
and establish thou the work of our hands upon us;
yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.