Maybe the real question should be this God change his mind? I know there are passages that support God changing his mind but there are also ones that say God is steadfast he never changes. If somebody gets sick and is dying does prayer work? If you believe that God never changes his mind then whether we pray or not the man will either be healed or die depending on what God wants. If you believe that God changes his mind then prayer is indeed a very very powerful tool. I struggle with the importance of prayer as far as asking God for healing or for something you want. Does it make a difference? Is there true power in prayer?
@Dan_Tangen That is a great question. My short answer is that the power belongs to the One to whom we pray, not to the prayer itself or to the one praying - it cannot be wielded like a weapon or tool. Rather, it is a request to our Heavenly Father - the King and Creator of all things.
The first thing I would say is that prayer is not a ‘tool’. A tool is something that we can use - like a rake or car or shovel - in order to achieve some purpose we have in mind. Tools are predictable - they always produce the same results if you use them in the same way. Prayer, in contrast, is a request that we bring before the living God, who chooses to act or not act in response to our prayer based upon many factors we do not know. Prayer is not predictable because we pray to a living God - prayer is not a tool and God is not a geni or vending machine. God is our Father and just like when we ask our parents for something when we are kids they may or may not grant our requests based upon factors unknown to us, prayer is coming before our Heavenly Father.
The other thing to understand is prayer is always an act of worship - if we recall the acrostic ACTS - prayer consists of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Even if God did not change His mind when we prayed we should still adore Him through worship, give thanks and confess our sins. The only one that would be confusing would be supplication. But prayer has many purposes beyond simply asking God for things - it is fundamentally an act of worship.
The below quote from C. S. Lewis makes the point that God could have already determined His choice in eternity past in light of His foreknowledge that we would pray a specific prayer at a point and time:
“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
And here are some additional Connect threads that discuss the significance of prayer if God has / has not predetermined events.
Christ grant you wisdom as you study Look forward to hearing your additional thoughts / questions.
Why did God stop direct Intervention?
I have the same questions about prayer for healing as Dan. In the here and now, my world, if I have a loved one who is suffering and I pray for God to heal her and she ends up dying, what good did my prayer do? It tells me that she would have died with or without my prayer. So what is the point? Am I supposed to do it just to please God even if I have no assurance that she will be healed? I just don’t get it. How can I possibly have faith that she will be healed when there are thousands if not millions of people over the years who have prayed similar prayers and God hasn’t healed. And if I don’t have faith that she’ll be healed, why am I praying for it? I know I’m kind of talking in circles but it seems that’s the only direction it goes. Thanks for any help on this.
Tough questions for sure. Concrete answers may be hard to come by. Maybe a question will help. Is the person who dies healed and made whole? If yes, then God answered the prayer, just not to our liking sometimes. My uncle died today from cancer. Long battle for several years. My faith tells me He is healed today. Yay God! Wasn’t exactly the answer we had in mind as a family but “not my will but thy will be done” is a better way to end all my prayers anyway.
To echo others. I understand prayer as communication and fellowship. I strive to not pray with agenda. Something I am still learning. How my prayer is answered will not determine the continuation of my relationship with the Lord, because it will not dissipate His love and mercy towards me.
No relationship I have will be ended because conditions do not meet my desire. If I am in human relationships committed for the duration of those relationships, I most certainly intend to hold firmly to the most important relationship I have.
Despite how our lives flow, I will always be somebody’s daughter, sister, cousin and etc. Being in relationship with the Lord transcends those natural relationships because I know and I can trust, that whether the answer is no, yes, or later; with GOD that answer is the best answer, I could possibly receive. Prayer is for me, GOD already knows.
I will ask because that is my privilege, but I know I am asking from a position of limited understanding, limited insight, and often pure feeling. Sometimes that aligns with GOD’s plan, sometimes it does not. Sometimes GOD allows my heart’s desire to drive my growth in the relationship. Sometimes He does not. But He always carries me through it all.
@hedgemo60 We pray because we are God’s children and He is our Father. Prayer is not chiefly about receiving answers, but about expressing trust in God’s goodness and love. As Christians, our hope and faith are not rooted in answered prayer, but in Christ crucified and resurrected. Jesus was clear that we would suffer in this world and yet in Christ we have all things.
Prayer is not simply about asking for things - think about Paul’s prayers in his letters. When did he ever ask God to end his persecution? He never did. To us, that’s crazy. So what did Paul pray? He prayed that he might know God more, understand God’s love at a deeper level and that he might be a light to others living in darkness - separated from the love of Jesus.
This world we are living in is broken - temporary - passing. All will die physically - we all will experience suffering. But Jesus has conquered the world! We pray with that confidence, giving thanks to God in all circumstances.
John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Romans 8:32 - He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Daniel 3:16-18 - Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
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