Does Prayer Change God’s Resolve?
aymon de albatrus
“And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: …….” (Exo 3:14)
“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:……:” (Isa 45:5)
“For I am the LORD, I change not;…………(Mal 3:6)
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isa 45:7)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no fickleness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jam 1:17)
We humans want both a dependable God always there that we can count on and yet an attentive God whom we can affect or even manipulate to do our own desires and whims.
And so we rake up and down Scripture seeking (or even twisting) verses to show a god that is like us humans full of feelings that can be manipulated to our own ends. For example some pick up this portion from Hosea: “…… My heart has turned within Me; My compassions are kindled together.” (Hos 11:8) and say: “see God is moved and changes His mind”.
mine heart is turned within me; - but not changed; for there is no shadow of turning with the Lord, neither in His mind and purposes, for He “changes not”. God never turns backs from His decrees He established before time began, He is never turned from love to hate, or vice versa, or His love could not be everlasting, as it is. This passage expresses only the strong motion of mercy that He has towards His people, springing from His sovereign will and pleasure. (Jer 31:20)
My compassions are kindled together. – Repentance does not properly belong to God, for He is neither man, nor the Son of Man, that he should repent of anything: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Num 23:19; 1Sa 15:29) Gods does not “repent” of His love for His people, or for the covenants with them, nor for the gifts and grace He has bestowed on them: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom 11:29)
A typical case is the one of Nineveh; God commands Jonah to go to that evil city to preach repentance proclaiming that God will destroy the city, and that is what Jonah believed (from man’s point of view), but then they repented and God seemed to change His mind and did not destroy the city. (Jon 3:4,10) Jonah was rather annoyed of this fact and again (from man’s point of view) believed that God had changed His resolve for not having destroyed Nineveh as Jonah believed He would do. But the truth is that God never changed His mind or His resolve, for God in His omniscience foresaw very well that Nineveh would repent with Jonah’s witnessing and so no change was applied to His foreseeing, God never intended to destroy that city, at that time, although He did so later in 612 BC. It was from Jonah’s point of view (not knowing the future) that it seemed as if God had changed His mind, but no such thing is possible.
God has an infinite number of attributes, only three here are sufficient to make the point:
1. Omnipotent: God can do all He wants to do,
2. Omnipresent: God is present in every part of His creation at all times,
3. Omniscient: God is perfectly aware of every single event; past, present and future.
Even with only these three attributes God is not limited in any possible way and has no reason to repent or change His mind for He knows all things before the world ever was. If along the corridors of times (an eternal NOW for God) He were to change His mind, in response to man’s pleading, He would change the situation He foresaw at the beginning (impossible) then He would have seen something that did not come to pass and thus he would not be Omniscient and thus, by definition, He would not be the Almighty God. QED
Everyone knows that the proper way to interpret the Bible is that the Bible interprets Itself; also verses that are absolutely clear take precedence over verses that may possible appear to have a different interpretation, with some manipulation no doubt.
Take the Hosea verse above for example:
AV: “mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together”.
LIT: “My heart has turned within Me; My compassions are kindled together”.
ESV: “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.”.
Someone wanting to prove his point used this, changing “turned” in “changed” thus modifying the sense of the verse:
“My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused”.
Such is man’s vanity.
Take the verse: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Act 13:48) Grammatically and any whichever side one care to look at it, this verse is absolutely clear: “only those who were ordained (elect) to eternal life believed”, e.g. they had to be ordained first (by God) before they could believe. Take this other verse: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Ti 2:4) Here some say that God wishes that “all men”, that is every single one, to be saved. But this cannot be when this verse is compared to the above one (and many others). Therefore “all men” refers not to every single man, but to “all men” that are His, i.e. the elect. The specific verse takes precedence over the unspecific one.
These days from many pulpits and books it is proclaimed: “If we do not pray, the hands of God are tied” and “God can only move on the wings of prayers” or “if we do not pray people will go to Hell”. Well, anyone with only a tiny reasoning power would easily work out that the Almighty God, the creator of ALL things (including man) would never subject Himself to His own creation. The most important thing to God is His Glory, all He does is for His Glory, and can you image what would happen to His Glory if it were subject to the evil corrupted mind of evil man? Anyone, who says that, obviously does not know God and His power: “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2Ti 3:5)
Just think: “the facts are that we do not pray as we ought, nor we pray continually”; well then what happens to the world when we are so negligent? Does not the world still go on according to God’s decrees and people are saved according to His election or it stops? Surely God has commanded us to pray always, and that we must do, but let us not go into the illusion that without our prayers God is powerless. Such thinking deeply dishonours God and it is an offence to Him, if not an abomination.
Why pray then?
1. We pray because God commanded us to do so
2. We pray to recognise His Holy Almighty Person
3. We pray to glorify His Holy Name
4. We pray for our own comfort, crying “Abba Father”
5. We pray to align our will to His and to seek His will for our lives
6. We pray to intercede for others, as commanded
7. We pray to change our evil nature to be like Jesus’
8. We pray to follow Jesus for He was a man of prayer
9. We pray for our earthly governors, so that we may live in peace, as commanded
10. We pray for evangelisation, as commanded.
BUT we do not pray to change God’s mind or resolve for that is a prayer that will NOT be answered, for sure.
How many times we have prayed for many things that did not come to pass? Many, and why not? Because we prayed according to our carnal minds and not according to His will: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:” (1Jo 5:14). That is why many of our prayers go unanswered, for they were not according to His will. This further illustrates that His eternal decrees will stand in eternity without changes, for “He changes not”, and nothing can modify them.
There is the case of someone praying for a Rolls Royce – did not get it. Then he prayed for an ordinary car – did not get it, and after for a motorbike, nix; finally he prayed for a pushbike – he got that. The will of God was for him to a have a pushbike and only when he aligned his prayer to God’s will he was answered. So you see, prayer does not change things as we fantasticate, but it appears so to our own inflated egos that it does, it was only because it was according to God’s original resolve that it came to pass, but that was exactly what God foresaw before the world ever was, no changes occurred to it due to our prayers.
There is a powerful passage: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jam 5:16) “The prayer of a righteous man avails much”, this is true and pay attention to the word “righteous”, what does it means? Means that that man (righteous) is in line with the will of God and his prayer will come to pass because he prays according to the will of God and not according to a carnal mind, and that is why it is effectual. The Key has to be “according to God’s will”. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Co 2:16). Truly we must be one with Christ before expecting our prayers to be fully answered for then we will pray according to God’s resolve and not trying to change it.
Dear brethrens; let us not live in fantasy.
Does our prayer change God’s resolve? The answer has to be a resounding NO, for if it were so then God would de subject to the whimsical evil nature of man. Besides if along the corridors of time God were to change what He foresaw before the world was, then He would have foreseen wrong and thus he would not be Omniscient, which is a fundamental attribute for God to be God.
Only a deranged irreverent mind could possibly believe that the Almighty God, the God that is not contained in the Universe of Universes, would subject Himself to a puny insignificant created being such as man. The God that has in His hands the life and death of His creation: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” (Deu 32:39)
What is the whole duty of man? To obey him, and not go into the delusion of having power over God and to tell Him what to do: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc 12:13)