View Full Version : the power of prayer
September 16th 2003, 11:54 PM
To me, the intention of prayer was always to ask God for something. Forgiveness, or to do better, and also "good wishes" for others. My understanding is that concept is that God will hear me and possibly make it so. Believing that God actually answers prayers seems contradictory to the belief that God is all knowing and unchanging.
Lets say I pray that everyone I am on vacation with has safe travels to and from the our destination. Now presumably, whether or not everyone makes it safely home is already known by God and he already has deemed this as a good part of his perfect plan. Isn't it presumptuous to think that God has not already considered all aspects of our travels and all repercussions of us being safe or not and that he might change what he already knows what is to be just because we want it so? Seems like prayer might be pointless. Why would God change is plans for us? If he does, what does that say about his plans in the first place?
I do not see any problems with prayer itself, but I have trouble working out how one can think that God is actually changing things around based on *our* desires.
September 17th 2003, 08:57 AM
To me prayer is not so much about asking God to change things but to maintain a constant contact with Him. I pray daily now, thanking him for what he has done, asking for guidance generally keeping in touch. This happens throughout the day when I am questioning what to do in a given situation.
Although God knows what we are going to do He gives us a choice to do it his way or our own. By constantly asking for guidance I can be sure that what I do is the way He intended it to be done.
God desires His children to bring their requests with praise and thanksgiving. Scripture promises "that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).
Despite His provision, the purpose of prayer is not to pressure God into providing us with pleasures, but to conform us to His will.
From F-A-C-T-S On Prayer by Hank Hanegraaff (http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/ministry_articles/1149396.html)
If God willed all that He foresaw would happen, as the Reformers taught, ultimately He would be responsible for all the evil in our world. It is true that He foresaw everything that would occur. He declared "the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done" (Isaiah 46:10). But He did not will or cause humanity's sin, suffering, and misery. What God foresees will happen in the future is often not His will but the will of Satan and of those who reject Christ. DID GOD PREDETERMINE OUR SALVATION? (http://www.lordsday.org/Gane.htm#GOD DOES NOT WILL ALL THAT HE FORESEES)
Therefore it makes good sense to ask Gods' protection ofr friends, family and yourself. He can put obstacles in the path of the enemy, He can and will protect if asked.
Matthew 21:22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
September 18th 2003, 07:55 AM
You bring up some very great points that people have struggled to understand I'm sure for centuries. I'm not sure what brand of theology you hold to regarding God's foreknowledge but there are views that could/would be able to address your questions. If you haven't yet, you might be interested in checking out some of the conversations in the theology 201 section pertaining to God's foreknowledge. Great stuff there! :smile:
September 18th 2003, 07:32 PM
"according to his will" i think is the key phrase in that scripture you quoted.
what does this mean? does this mean that we are to pray for what is going to happen any way?
the original post asks questions that have not been answered here. it is a very interesting subject, and something i have struggled with as well.
i don't have definite answers to the questions raised here, but i find myself not praying for things that those around me do. i hear people praying for safe passage, for help on tests, for the salvation of friends and family. i am inclined to pray that God will use me in the carrying out of His will, whatever it is; for the discernment to know His will; that He would use me to accomplish His will.
September 18th 2003, 07:36 PM
Awesome things to pray for Simon! I pray for those things as well. And when I pray that God would use me in some way, I also pray that He would give me the courage, desire, and wisdom to do those things that He asks each of us to do as Ambassadors for Him. Although I do pray for some of the other things mentioned too. :teeth:
September 18th 2003, 08:23 PM
These are not answers that I am used to. Since [Xman] refered to it I feel I can share that I been in discussion recently with some pretty heavy duty fundamentalists, I do not really have a brand of theology myself but I do know that I can not comprehend how someone can take fundamentalist Christianity seriouisly. (My interest is primarily trying to understand how someone can hold beleifs that are so contrary to science and everyday expirence) The answers so far here have been quite liberal and reasonable.
[Simon] you seem to have the most fitting attitude towards prayer that I have heard. Although you still have the issue of predetermination vs. free will. Asking God to use you in a certain way really should have no bearing on whether or not he is going to use you or not, and he knew since Adam what was going to happen. (at least in what I have been told.)
Now, if there are alternative versions of Christianity, as [Xman] points out, that hold to the beleif that God does not know everything and is not all powerful (and therefore could take prayer into account to determine the future) then that is news to me., and although I think this would explain the reasonableness of prayer, it does not make a great case for beleiving in a God who can not even see the future. And I am sure this concept contradics many passages in the bible.
Thank you all for your insite
September 18th 2003, 08:41 PM
I would like to address one point that perhaps you misunderstood about my comments. I do believe God is omnipotent and that is not affected by His omniscience, which I also believe He has. Although I believe we would probably differ in the definition of omniscience. Hope that helps. :smile:
Many threads here on TW, have been devoted to the topic of God's omniscience and I'm sure will inevitably be again, as people are always seeking to understand Him. As for those passages that you suggest would contradict scripture, well all I can say is, bring them up in a thread and I'm sure someone will address them. :wink:
September 18th 2003, 09:12 PM
I see prayer as more of my closest communion with God. It is our time. I see prayer as an opportunity for clarity and as an opportunity to petition for others. Many embraced the Prayer of Jabez and I will admit that if the prayer is used with the right intentions it may prove profitable. Like Cain and Abel's offerings I believe that it was not the offering (a need for blood sacrifice), but the heart of the one offering, his attentions. Hank Hanegraaff wrote a small book to answer the Prayer of Jabez called the Prayer of Jesus. I think this book captures the spirit of prayer better than the former. RC Sproul captures the Why Pray? question asked of Calvinists with the blunt assertion that the Bible tells us to. If God in his written word exhorts me to do something although I do not understand why I do not ask why I just do it. I believe that our prayer is influential in the will God in that he uses our prayer to achieve his will. Much in the way that he uses heathen nations and people to achieve good. It is not ours to ask why, but to accept. So you will find me on my knees most days. Let us Pray.
September 19th 2003, 02:37 AM
Jonah is a great book to see how God can and will change his mind on something. he told Jonah to tell the people he was going to destroy their city... they fasted and prayed and God decided not to destroy them... then Jonah got in a big huff and God told him you care more about a plant than over a hundred and twenty thousand people... God changed his mind here because as Jonah says he was gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love a God which relents from sending calamity.
thats just one example of God changing his mind for us :smile:
September 19th 2003, 05:02 AM
"Asking God to use you in a certain way really should have no bearing on whether or not he is going to use you or not, and he knew since Adam what was going to happen."
Excellent point. I think of it this way. When I ask God to use me to accomplish His will, I am offering myself to Him. I believe that God can and does use whoever He wants to do His will, but when I offer myself to Him I am being changed at the same time I am deciding to change. It is that I am praying to change me, not to change God.
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