Does God change His mind if we pray?

Hi everyone,

I struggle with giving a good answer to the following question(s).

Why pray? If God already knows the outcome, can praying really change anything? Does the Bible have examples of prayers changing the outcome?

Thank you in advance :blush:

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@RobinRHuff Great question :slight_smile: It is easy to reduce prayer to asking God for things, which is also called supplication. But prayer is so much more - ACTS - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Prayer is worship - it is thanking God for His goodness - it is being made like Christ. Asking God for things is only one part of prayer… Read Paul’s prayers in the New Testament - how often does Paul ask God for the things we normally ask for? Hardly ever - Paul is always praying that people would be transformed to be like Christ.

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind about petitionary prayer (asking for stuff):

  • There are plenty of Biblical examples where God changes his mind (see below list - it is not comprehensive)
  • God’s goals are often not our goals - God cares much more that we look like Christ than that we get all that we want
  • God sees the bigger picture - He sees eternity - we only see right now - and if we are suffering, it can be hard for us to have perspective. We can feel like prayer is useless if our suffering is not ending, but from God’s perspective nothing could be further from the truth. Romans 8:18 - I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
  • Whether or not God already knows what will happen, that does not mean that He cannot respond to our decisions - whether His response is already known to Him does not change that He responds
  • I don’t think our choices are predestined - if you do, that is called determinism and causes additional issues

Hope that helps :slight_smile:

“The event [in question] has already been decided—in a sense it was decided “before all worlds.” But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are now offering. . . . My free act [of prayer] contributes to the cosmic shape. That contribution is made in eternity or “before all worlds”; but my consciousness of contributing reaches me at a particular point in the time-series.” C. S. Lewis

Biblical Examples

1 Kings 21:27-29 - When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

Jonah 3:10 - When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

1 Samuel 15:26 - But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”

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Hezekiah prayed and God gave him 15 more years to live. Hannah prayed and God gave her a child. Abraham prayed and God agreed repeatedly to a reduced number of people that had to be righteous in Sodom/Gomorah to prevent their destruction. Often people repent and God turns away judgement. There are probably many other and even better examples for you.

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Thank you so much for this great question @RobinRHuff!
I echo the above responses from @SeanO and @Leah, as I enjoyed digging deeper into this-discovering the power of prayer in scriptures. The further I investigated, the more I was overcome with another question…
“Who are we, that the God who made the heavens and the earth, should take notice of our simple words?”
That the God who spoke the universe into being should care about the things on our hearts and minds? I am so blown away we are privy to this beautiful conversation with our Creator.
Who am I to have this privilege, this absolute honor?!
I think if we truly were to truly grasp the depth of what this means, we would never get off of our knees!

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