Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Prayer ...

First of all, let me apologize for the wording of my question to begin with.  Asking "Does prayer change God's mind?" would be similar to asking "Can God create a rock big enough for Him to move?"
It really isn't a question that can be answerd, or one that even deserves and answer.

I did some studying yesterday afternoon.  One thing I have learned over the years is if I try to figure out an answer to a Biblical question on my own is usually frustrating and not very profitable.  I do not always interpret scripture correctly when I read it myself, so I consult some scholars who have spent their lifetime studying the Word of God and writing commentaries.  The following is some of what I gathered from Wiersbe, MacArthur, and The Bible Knowledge Commentaries.  

James 5:16 "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
(From the BKC "Pray for one another that you may be healed")
  • This is a way to combat discouragement and downfall
  • Healing is not referring to bodily healing but healing of the soul

(Wiersbe on James 5:13-16)
  • In Times of affliction we are not to grumble or criticize saints who seem to be having an easier time, but we are to ask God for the wisdom we need to understand the situation and use it for His glory.
  • Prayer can remove affliction, if that is God's Will.  But prayer can also give us the grace we need to endure troubles and use them to accomplish God's perfect will.
  • "the prayer of faith" that heals the sick 1 John 5:14-15
    • It is a prayer offered when you know the will of God.  
    • Elders would seek the mind of God in the matter then pray according to His will.  We do not always know God's will in a matter, for example when someone is sick.  So all we can pray is "If it is your will heal Your child."
1 John 5:14 "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
  • In this verse it is assumed that those things we are asking for are according to His will.  This phrase constitutes a strategic key to answered prayer.  To pray according to God's will is to pray in accord with what He would want, not what we would desire or insist that He do for us.
  • He always hears the prayers of His children but not always in the manner they were presented.
  • "Confidence" in this verse is the same confidence we have in the judgment meaning "freedom of speech."  We can come to Him freely and tell Him our needs.
  • There are conditions to answered prayer
    • A heart that does not condemn us
    • We must pray according to God's will.  Robert Law said, "Prayer is not for getting man's will done in heaven, it is for getting God's will done on earth."
    • George Mueller who fed thousands orphans with food provided in answer to prayer, said "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance.  It is laying hold of God's willingness."
  • Often all we can pray is "Not my will but thine be done.
"But if it is God's will for me to have something then why should I pray about it?"

  • Prayer maintains that close walk with Him to meet my needs.  (We are acknowledging our dependence on Him.)
  • We pray because God has commanded us to pray and because prayer is the God-appointed means for a believer to receive what God wants to give Him.  Prayer keeps a Christian in the will of God, and living in the will of God keeps a Christian in the place of blessing and service.
  • The most important thing about prayer is the will of God.  


So what I came up with in my own words from this, (and I plan to do even more digging into my Bible and various commentaries) is that we cannot answer a question about changing God's mind.  He WAS, He IS, and He IS TO COME, and His thinking is the very same in the beginning of time as it is today, and as it will be for eternity.

I think the better question is "Does prayer change things?" or "Does prayer change ME?"
  • Yes, if we know His will we can pray specifically for it and expect it to come to pass.
    • We know it is God's will to supply our needs, so we can pray that knowing that He will do it.
  • We also know that sin will hinder our prayers.  Sin in our own lives as well as others.
  • If we do not know God's will in a matter then all we can pray is that His will be done.
  • God wants us to pray so that we come to Him for our needs and desires.  It is how He reveals His will to us, so He can change our thinking so that it will be in line with His will.
Oswald Chambers in "My Utmost for His Highest" said on February 7, "Whenever we insist that God should give us an answer to prayer we are off track.  The purpose of prayer is that we get ahold of God, not of the answer."


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