Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Does Prayer Change God?
Dr Alex Tang
“I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6)
“My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” (Hosea 11:8)
1. God is unchangeable, prayer has no effect.
a. Origen “First, if God foreknows what will come to be and if it must happen, then prayer is in vain. Second, if everything happens according to God’s will and if what He wills is fixed and no one of the things He wills can be changed, then prayer is in vain”.
b. Aristotle, “First Unmoved Maker”
c. Immanuel Kant “an absurd and presumptuous delusion”
d. John Calvin.
e. Jonathan Edward “God is sometimes represented as if he were moved and persuaded by the prayers of his people; yet it is not to be thought that God is properly moved or made willing by our prayers’, instead God bestow mercy so , “as though he were prevailed upon by our prayer.”
2. God is unchangeable, prayer changes God.
d. Elijah, Elisha and Peter prayed for the resurrection of the dead.
e. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth prayed for their infertility.
f. Daniel prayed in the lions den.
g. Isaiah and Hezekiah. Isaiah announced to King Hezekiah’s impending doom. Hezekiah prayed for more time, He was given 15 more years.
h. 3 times God told Jeremiah to stop praying.
i. 4 times the OT recorded God changed his mind. Jonah.
i. “Ask and it will be given to you”
ii. “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer”
iii. “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”.
iv. “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer”
v. “You do not have because you do not ask.”
3. What is prayer?
a. Charles Finney “If you ask why he ever answer prayers at all, the answer must be, Because he is unchangeable”. Philip Yancey ‘a God of love and mercy bound by his unchangeable character must forgive a sinner who prays in repentance. God changes course in response to his creature’s change in course, and does so in a manner consistent with eternal qualities of goodness and mercy.’
b. Clark Pinnock: God’s nature is love. God must be impressionable and sympathetic. God’s love never changes, God’s experience must change. A aloof monarch compared to a loving parent.
c. Prayer is God in action.
4. Why prayer?
a. God to intervene in out time bound life on earth.
b. Changes us to harmonise with his purpose.
c. God chooses to use prayer to fulfil his purpose.
d. Action-weakest, slipperiest and easiest to ignore.
5. Why pray?
a. God likes us to be asked.
b. Relationship. Confession and forgiveness binds the relationship.
c. God waits to be asked, in some mysterious way making God’s activity on earth contingent on us.
Soli Deo Gloria
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