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.