If regeneration is the work of God (Deut 30:6; John 1:13; 3:7-8), ought we pray for this work to be done? Here is John Owen’s comments on that question:
Is it lawful for us, is it our duty, to pray that God would do and effect what he hath promised to do, and that both for ourselves and others? —
[We may pray] for ourselves, that the work of our conversion may be renewed, carried on, and consummated in the way and by the means whereby it was begun, that so ‘he which hath begun the good work in us may perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ,’ Phil. i. 6; for those who are converted and regenerated, and are persuaded on good and infallible grounds that so they are, may yet pray for those things which God promiseth to work in their first conversion.
And this is because the same work is to be preserved and carried on in them by the same means, the same power, the same grace, wherewith it was begun.
And the reason is, though this work, as it is merely the work of conversion , is immediately perfected and completed as to the being of it; yet as it is the beginning of a work of sanctification, it is continually to be renewed and gone over again, because of the remainder of sin in us and the imperfection of our grace.
[And we may pray] for others, that it may be both begun and finished in them. And do we not in such prayers desire that God would really, powerfully, effectually, by the internal efficiency of his Spirit, take away all hinderances, oppositions, and repugnancy in our minds and wills, and actually collate upon us, give unto us, and work in us, a new principle of obedience, that we may assuredly love, fear, and trust in God always? or do we only desire that God would so help us as to leave us absolutely undertermined whether we will make use of his help or no?
Did ever any pious soul couch such an intention of his supplications? He knows not how to pray who prays not that God would, by his own immediate power, work those things in him which he prayeth for. And unto this prayer, also, grace effectual is antecedently required.
Πνευματολογια, in The Works of John Owen 3:325.