Post by christysimmons on Mar 11, 2009 11:13:39 GMT -5
We had a discussion in our SS class a few weeks ago regarding prayer and God's unchanging nature. I think we essentially agreed but were just saying it differently. One side was concerned with the idea of "God doesn't change His mind", (I read your post from Sept on this same thing.) But, I guess our question would then be, what does that mean in relation to prayers of supplication or intercession? God knows His will and the future, and He is unchanging. What, then, is the impact of our prayers?
Post by johngaltlives on Mar 12, 2009 8:24:06 GMT -5
God is omniscent- all powerful and all knowing. To say that WE can change HIS mind implies HIS original plan was imperfect. He already knows the outcome. I believe prayer is used by God as a tool to accomplish His purpose. Just as He uses your gift of singing to accomplish His goals. When you sing you are worshipping and praising Him. When you sing others are moved by the beauty of your voice, the message of the song and by your example of service. When you sing and a heart is changed, for instance let's say a man beats his wife. Comes to church and hears you sing a moving song. He then gets convicted and no longer wants to beat his wife. Does that mean that God changed His mind? No.
God already knew the man was coming in, and that you would sing that song. The song was the tool God used to allow the Holy Spirit to convict the man of his sin. With prayer God uses your prayer to: 1. As a form of worship from you 2. As a form of discipline & faith for you 3. As a means of clearing your mind and providing peace in your heart for you 4. As an example for others by your discpline & faith 5. As a means of communication between Him and you 6. There is much more..
I do not imply or mean that the course is predetermined. My view is not a Calvinistic view. We have free will and can make our choices. It is just that God already knows our choices. It is like playing tic-tac-toe with a 4 year old. We know the outcome fo the game before it starts. We are called to pray and to worship. We are to live as Christ lived and he prayed fervently.
I do realize there is scripture that talks abou God changing His mind. However, if you look at the original Hebrew & Greek, at the time the piece was written and then put the text in context it does not mean that God literally said, "Hmmm this is a better way to do this. I think I will change my original plan."
When Moses prayed and God spared the Israelites. God knew this was going to happen but from Moses' perspective God changed His mind. God used Moses' prayer to accomplish many tasks but not to cahnge His mind. God is still using Moses' prayer as an example of MOses' faithfulness and discipline. Moses' prayer still is working for God's purpose.
There is much more to say about this subject and I need to get to work. I will wait and see what Bro. Mike has to say.
Post by Mike Miller on Mar 12, 2009 9:27:50 GMT -5
Wow. Terrific answer, Jim. Though I have more Calvinistic leanings than you in seeing God as ultimately the determiner of all things (instead of just being a predictor), we are on the same page. The example of Moses is an excellent one. God was going to spare the Israelites. His plan was to take them to the Promised Land (see Genesis 35). He could not fulfill his promise to Jacob if He destroyed them all. However, His method of saving them from their just punishment was the intercession of Moses. When God works through the prayers of His people to accomplish His purposes, God gets the glory. In fact, one reason for prayer that I would add to your excellent list is that when we pray we express our absolute dependence on God to meet our needs. Then, when He meets our needs, we are aware that it was indeed Him, and not us.
I hope that Jim's and my responses help. If not, please ask some follow-up questions, and I'll do my best to answer (and Jim will too, I hope).
Post by johngaltlives on Mar 12, 2009 22:43:05 GMT -5
I share your belief in God being the "determiner" of events. I softened my explanation regarding His determining events because I did not want the explanation to appear too Calvinistic. And the explanation was already getting wordy, the topic of God determining events could occupy pages.
Plus, I was afraid if it appeared I was siding with the predestination crowd I would end up being chased from the church by a mob with pitch forks and torches, screaming "Heretic!". LOL
I don't disagree with anything either of you said. But I guess what disturbs me is what I feel like it implies. I don't think prayer is merely psycho-therapy for us. I do believe that God hears us, has compassion on us, considers our prayers, and makes decisions. Does He already know what we'll ask and what that decision will be? Of course.
I liked something you said Wed. night, Bro. Mike. I can't quote, but it was about Jonah and the Ninevites. God didn't change His mind about that. God had said, "IF they don't repent, I will destroy the city." But ----they still had to repent. Did He know they would, yes. But they still had to do it, right?
The same with Hannah. The Bible says God had closed her womb. She petitioned the Lord for a child, and Eli tells her that God will grant her petition. Did God know there would be a Samuel? Yes. Did He know Hannah would ask Him for a child? Yes. However, didn't she still have to ask?
And likewise, when we are saved, does He know that we will become his child? Yes. But don't we still have to invite Him in?? We still have to have an active role. His will is to do X in our lives, but we still have to seek it. His calling may be X in our lives, but we still have to answer it.
Do those things conflict? I don't feel like they do, because I know I don't have to understand it for God to be able to do it. But it would be hard for me to reconcile if prayer were merely an exercise for us, rather than communication with a loving Heavenly Father, who cares about what we want to say to Him.
Post by johngaltlives on Mar 14, 2009 22:19:22 GMT -5
Your statement is not in conflict with my post. It is hard to make all necessary points when posting on a blog. Part of prayer is communicating and communing with our Father. It is worship and drawsus closer to him.
Jesus set the perfect example of obedience in prayer. Although His day was filled from morning to night with many pressures and responsibilities -- addressing crowds, healing the sick, granting private interviews, traveling, and training His disciples -- He made prayer a top priority. If Jesus was so dependent upon His fellowship in prayer alone with His Father, how much more you and I should spend time alone with God.
The lives of the disciples and other Christians who have been mightily used of God through the centuries to reach their world for Christ all testify to the necessity of prayer. They are examples of obedience to our Lord's command to pray.
Someone has wisely said, "Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks our wisdom, but trembles when he sees the weakest saint on his knees." Prayer is God's appointed way of doing God's work.
Post by Mike Miller on Mar 15, 2009 5:40:56 GMT -5
Well, first of all, I don't think I ever implied that prayer was "merely psycho-therapy." If I did, please accept my deepest apologies, as that would completely go against anything I believe. In fact, I'm not sure where that statement came from.
Secondly, if as you you say, God already knows what His decision is going to be, doesn't that meant that the decision is made ahead of time? To know what one will decide is to decide.
And finally, I don't see any conflict either. God's will can never be thwarted, and He doesn't have to wait to see what I'm going to do before He can figure out what He will do. That would make me God. I would be in charge. Do I still have to act? Of course, but God is sovereign and will ensure that His will is done completely. His means of carrying out His will on earth is through the willful decisions of His creatures, however. God's means of saving Nineveh was through preaching and repentance, but the Bible is clear that repentance is something God grants (2 Timothy 2:25). His means of bringing Samuel into the world was through Hannah's prayers. Do I for a second think that God was not planning on giving Samuel to Hannah? Nope. It wasn't an idea Hannah came up with. God moved Hannah to pray for a child, and then He receives the glory when Samuel is born.
Psycho-therapy? Absolutely not. Prayer is a powerful weapon--a weapon God puts into our arsenal to accomplish the plans He has made.
Oh, and by the way, I'm pretty sure the quote referred to in the previous post is by Samuel Chadwick: "The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray."
I'm sorry; The "psycho-therapy" comment was mine and came from the original discussion. Someone said that prayer is only for us, an exercise for us. That was the part that disturbed me so, and the reason for my original post.
Like I said, I didn't think anybody was disagreeing, just maybe saying it a way that I was not interpreting correctly. Thank you both for bearing with me, though.
I do have to say, in the past week I have developed a much deeper appreciation for the opportunity to communicate with the God of the universe that we so often take for granted.