“And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”
1 Samuel 15:29 NASB
“So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”
Exodus 32:14 NASB
So what exactly happens when we pray? Let’s say someone you know has an injury and needs surgery. You pray that things will go well. You pray for wisdom for the doctors and nurses, skill for the surgeons, and speedy recuperation for your friend. Here’s the question: What would happen if you didn’t pray and will your prayers change anything?
Does God change His mind when we pray? We have to admit that this is a challenging topic. To know the mind of God, how it works and why, is far beyond our ability. Yet, we find ourselves in a dilemma. On one hand, we believe the Scripture when we are told that God does not change. On the other, we believe the Scripture when we are invited to pray for certain things to happen.
So does God already have a plan and my prayers don’t matter? Sometimes it seems like that, doesn’t it? I pray and nothing happens. The person still dies; the money doesn’t come; the accident still happens. Were my pleas unheard? And sometimes it seems like the smallest prayer brings a miracle. Was God already planning to provide that protection or healing? Was my prayer still unnecessary?
There are so many aspects of this and maybe I will cover more in other posts. But let me just cover a few here.
- First, God tells us to pray. He wants us to pray. There must be something in it that He wants. It is not futile.
- Second, He is God and we are His children. Prayer helps us to remember that relationship. We cannot demand; we can only request. And, even then, we come into His presence in humility. That reminds us that He is the One who is wise and good. He understands the greater plan, sees the bigger picture. He knows what is truly best.
- Third, the only motive of the heart of God toward us is love. His consistent desire, throughout Scripture, is for a reconciled and right relationship with us. Prayer is designed to be a heart to heart connection with the Lord. It is often misused, of course, but we are supposed to come to Him and connect with Him.
- Fourth, we are creatures of change; God is not. He is perfect; we are growing and changing. There can be no change of heart in God. That means that He loves even those who hearts are set against Him. That means that even His wrath is somehow part of His love. He is not inconsistent.
- Fifth, the purpose of prayer is to draw us to God, not Him to us. We are the ones who need to change, who are being conformed. He is who He is and always has been. Even in crises, our goal should be to find Him and connect with Him, rather than to get Him to do what we want.
- Sixth, it is clear from personal experience and from Scriptural example that God hears our prayers and acts in our lives. How that works, what the cause and effect relationship might be, is not as important as the fact that God connects our prayers and His action in some way. We pray and God listens.
- Seventh, it appears from the Scriptures that there are things in the plan of God that are negotiable while others are not. Determining which is which is probably not our responsibility. Because of that, our prayers should express our desires while yielding the ultimate outcome to Him. We simply submit our will and trust in His will.
These things help me as I pray. Prayer is not futile, even though I do not quite understand how these things work. I know that He hears me and loves me. At the same time I know that He will do what is best, no matter what I ask for. I can trust, especially after I pray, that whatever happens is within His will and is best for me or for those in my prayers.
So I would say that we should pray without hesitation and we should pray the desire of our hearts. He loves us and He hears us.