Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Prayer and Authority (1) Changing God's Mind

Christians spend put a lot of time and effort into a prayer, but sometimes this can often seem like a waste of time. Unanswered prayer is a huge source of frustration for many believers.

Part of the problem is misunderstanding about the way that pray works. Misguided prayer is a major cause of distress. One of the most serious problems is that Christians often pray as if they were trying to change God’s mind. They are concerned about a problem in their society and ask God to act to change the situation. If nothing happens, their prayers turn into pleading.

Most would not admit this, but their prayer style implies that God is stingy and miserly. Something good needs to be done, and he is able to do it, but has chosen to nothing, but some pleads fervently, he might change his mind and act. Getting other people to pray might help. If enough good people beg God to take up this cause, he might be persuaded to act. If some of those praying are really godly people, that might help swing him around.

Under this approach, God is all powerful. He can do anything, so if prayer is not answered, it must be because he is reluctant to answer it. The purpose of the prayer is to change his mind and get some action.

The underlying idea behind this approach is that prayer changes God’s mind. This is a dangerous principle, because changing God’s mind is just about impossible. The scriptures are quite blunt on this topic.

God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind (Num 23:19).

He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind (1 Sam 15:29).
Humans change their minds all the time, but God is different. He does not need to change his mind.

To read this full series of posts go to Prayer and Authority.

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