If a man owns a house and rents it to another, an agreement typically defines what takes place on that property. Although the owner continues to hold a rightful claim, he cannot rightfully do anything he wants with the house. His emerging relationship with the renter now shapes what can be expected and done.
Even if there is a legitimate need — like fixing a hot-water heater or making repairs to the air conditioner — the owner is still obligated to make arrangements with the renter. He can't rightly unlock the door and come in at 5:30 in the morning and start working without the renter's permission.
Now, one might say that on some level the Lord has "rented" the earth to us. I know that sounds a little strange, but consider the following passages:
"The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind." (Psalm 115:16)
"What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet."(Psalm 8:4-6)
This may baffle some, but in His sovereignty, God has given humanity jurisdiction and responsibility for this land. While He was and is the rightful owner, the Lord doesn't make it a pattern to bypass those who hold the "keys." He typically wants to work in and through them.
Using the renter's analogy, effective ministry is like inviting the rightful owner to come in, unlocking the door so that He do His work. When we don't petition and actively welcome God into circumstances, things remain undone. It's not that the Lord is unwilling or incapable; He just typically limits Himself to working through those who are "renting" His property.
Not enough people understand how the Kingdom of God actually operates here on earth. They don't understand that we have a responsibility to unlock the door and enable the right outcome.
God owns everything, but He has put you in charge of occupying and managing it. If you don't steward it responsibly, things will not turn out as well as they should. I hope that you understand the renter's analogy.
What's one way you can invite your heavenly "landlord" in to do His work this week?