Can prayer change God’s mind?
That is what I want us to consider today. In light of Tropical Storm Chantal passing us by without leaving a bucket of water or enough wind to disturb dry leaves; did the prayers of God’s people change His mind, or influence the outcome?
Let’s assume Latoya is getting married on Saturday and her fervent request is now, “Lord please don’t let it rain on Saturday”.
If God were to respond to her request, it would be necessary for Him to change a high pressure system 500 kilometres wide and 8,000 metres above the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Not only that, he must have made these adjustments a week ago.
It should also be noted that this change would have major impact on weather systems around the world. Although we all pray for sunny days, we tend to forget that thermodynamics, not theology, is the basis of modern meteorology.
With the right equipment, the complex subject which is meteorology becomes a relatively accurate science despite all its variables.
Countless persons have spoken of and written about the complexities of God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, sovereignty, providence and free will; all of which are interconnected.
The early Greeks could not accept a god that could be influenced by any outside sources and therefore concluded that God is immutable — that is, he never changes. This theology carries with it God’s absolute sovereignty and control.
Is it possible that early Christians adopted this Hellenistic idea and concluded that nothing can change the mind of God? Just a thought, but perhaps the immutability has more to do with God’s character than God’s predetermined actions.
We say God is omnipotent — having absolute power; and sovereign — nothing happens unless God causes or permits it. This idea supports that no prayer can change God’s mind and biblically we could find a great deal of evidence to support this claim.
Exodus 32:9-14 informs us that in response to Moses’ prayer for the people of Israel, God had second thoughts. At first he tells Moses, “They are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.”
But Moses replies: “Lord, why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.”
God relents and the threatened disaster never comes. Did that happen last week?
Probably what happened is that the storm passing by Barbados has more to do with the storm being influences by the weather around it than God saying “I will spare little Barbados with them sinful people cause the Christians praying.”
God is not a puppet waiting for us to pull His strings or massage vigorously with pious words so we are contented. It is hard to see God as outside the workings of this world, but the reality is that we all have free will and when it is exercised we continue to add to a string of events that have already been set into motion.
The reaction of our environment is due to some of the choices we make. The use of aerosols, the indiscriminate dumping of garbage, the chopping down of trees all influence how the weather or effects of the weather “treat us”.
The average Christian tends to believe that they are special and God has a special place for them, that He knows them by name and that they can plead and beg and get, or is it “pray” and get what they want.
We should all consider that we have free will and that as Christians, free will should be exercised in doing the will of God, which is to love God with all our being and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
When we view God as interfering in the everyday working of the world it then becomes easier to blame God and say foolish things like the people in Haiti don’t believe in God that is why they get devastate and that God is a Bajan.
What does that mean for the people of Florida, practically everything that comes off the Atlantic impacts on them. Not because they are the most wicked state or because nuff Haitians live there, but because of their location and the pattern which the weather follows.
I am not saying God does not intervene because I pray he does for my sake, but He has already set the world in motion, we as human beings are already in motion and all these actions cause reactions and the cycle goes on.