Hi everyone! I am excited to have found this app and use the wealth of users knowledge to understand the moe complicated aspects of the Christian faith. I was raised in church, and always considered myself a Christian. Though I went through times when I was less on fire for God, I have never doubted his existence or involvement in my life. Until the last few years, I have never taken on the responsibility to dig deeper into the word. I didn’t have answers to my own questions let alone the critics. I am here to read and learn. I am specifically interested in how our free will interacts with what we pray for. For example when we pray for good things to happen in other people’s life, and those things don’t happen… was that them acting on their free will or was that God choosing not to answer our prayers. I hope to spend time reading and observing other conversations to help understand this more. Thank you for reading my intro. May God bless.
Hi! Welcome to RZIM Connect! We’re thankful you joined our community!
That is a legitimate question, and thank you for asking it. The first thing that comes to mind the purpose of prayer. Why do we pray? Well, first things first, God calls us to pray (Matt 6:9-15). Prayer brings us into a closer relationship with him. Jesus set the example for us in this regard. in the gospels, Jesus constantly goes off alone to pray to God. (Matt 14:23, Mark 1:35,6:46, Luke 5:16). Jesus called us to pray alone and spend time with God (Matt 6:6). Another thing is that we pray to be in communication with God. We can have direct access to the One who created us. It is in prayer that we ask God to refine us, to show us our weaknesses and the areas in our lives that need correction.
Here are some good articles to read:
Great to have you here, man and WELCOME to the CONNECT COMMUNITY!
Nathan, welcome! So good to have you with us here. I look forward to interacting with you on Connect, and am thrilled to hear more about your story. I also was a very nominal Catholic Christian before the Lord woke me up (through a powerful vision) at the age of 34. That is now almost nine years ago now, but I will never forget the moment of my new birth. I’m thrilled that you are now digging deeper into the faith, and I hope this will be a great place for you to investigate and learn.
So, I love your question about prayer. Here are some brief observations that I’ve made about prayer and free will that maybe are a starting place:
With regard to any intercessory prayer we might make for others, some possible results are:
We pray for a specific thing to happen, or not happen, to a friend or relative, and it does or does not occur in accord with the prayer. The prayer is answered, and we are aware, or have knowledge, that it was answered. (e.g. a dear friend recovers from a serious illness)
We pray for a specific thing to happen, or not happen, to a friend or relative, and it does or does not occur in accord with the prayer. However, although the prayer is answered, we never actually learn about it being answered. It was answered, but we don’t know it, because we are never told, or something else precludes us from knowing the result. (e.g. a dear friend recovers from a serious illness, but we lose contact with him, and never find out about the recovery.)
We pray for a specific thing to happen, or not happen, to a friend or relative, and it seems that the prayer just isn’t answered. It seems that God has not answered the prayer, and we know it wasn’t answered. (e.g. a dear friend dies of a serious illness, and we know about it.)
Here, it could be a) our prayer was not in accordance with God’s perfect will, and we were just praying the wrong thing, or b) our prayer was in accord with God’s will, but the recipient of our prayer somehow made free will choices that prevented the prayer from being actualized. I think both of these are plausible, especially if we think that people can reject God’s will for their lives, or just be ignorant of what God really wants for people. (e.g. maybe it was simply that friends time to die)
- We pray for a specific thing to happen, or not happen, to a friend or relative, and the prayer is answered, and we know about it, but it is answered at a much later time from the time we first said the prayer, and we have forgotten that we actually prayed the prayer for that person. In other words, we have knowledge of the result of the prayer, i.e. that it was answered, but because it was answered perhaps several years after our praying the prayer, we no longer have knowledge of the original prayer. (e.g. the friend struggles for years with illness, and then is healed, and lives for an additional several years without the illness, but we forgot about our prayer for his health).
In addition to these possible scenarios, I would also want to suggest that it is the actual activity of prayer that is important; not just the results of the intercession. It is our own interaction, wrestling, questioning, etc. with God that matters as much as whether or not we see results. Especially if we think, as I do, that prayer can literally change us. In fact, there are neuroscientific studies now that show how “being in prayer” can have positive affects on the brain. I have a friend delivering an academic paper on this very topic next week at a large conference of Christian philosophers. It’s an exciting field of inquiry, and I imagine it is true.
Finally, it seems that in prayer God reveals things about our own inner life; so when we pray for others, He speaks to us about ourselves. That is also significant.
Hope this helps some.