Q: The more that I learn about the sovereignty of God the more it seems like prayer can’t actually change things. The thought comes to my mind that it’s okay to not spend time in prayer because His will is going to happen anyway.
Yes, our God is sovereign, but you're forgetting a few things about both God's sovereignty and prayer:
1. In His sovereignty, God created mankind with a freewill. That freewill doesn't override God's sovereignty but it works within it and our prayers can make a difference in our own and other people's lives.
2. Because God is sovereign, He has given into the hands of His children the right and privilege to participate in the work of His kingdom and the instigation of His will. One of the key ways we do that is through prayer. God has sovereignly determined that our prayers will make a difference. That is why we are told, "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (James 5:16)
3. When the disciples failed to release a young man from demonic possession, Jesus told them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:29) Prayer empowers us to do the work of the Lord. (See also Acts 4:31)
4. Prayer is not just about changing things. It's also about being strengthened to stand. On the night our Lord was arrested, He exhorted His disciples to "...pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:46)
5. Prayer is one of the things God has given us to develop and grow in our relationship with Him. We don't just go to the Lord when we have a need ― we go to Him so that we might know Him better and know His will for our lives. We often think of prayer as just "talking to God," but it should also include listening and leaning into our Lord that we might learn to hear His voice.
I've run into many Christians who stumble over the idea of prayer simply because they are attempting to reconcile it alongside God's sovereignty. But sovereignty doesn't mean that everything is fixed and immovable. We know this to be the case because Peter wrote that God is not willing that any should be lost but that all would come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) and yet Jesus told us that "...the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:14) Jesus, therefore exhorted us, saying, "therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:38)
Prayer does make a difference and God is looking to His children to pray believing.
James 5;16; Mark 9:29; Acts 4;31; Luke 22:46; 2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 7:14; Matthew 9:38