Summary: Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing my mind so my will lines up with His will.
Does Prayer Change God’s Mind?
Rev. Brian Bill
August 24-25, 2019
If our questions aren’t addressed properly, it’s easy to become confused. Listen to how some children answered a few Bible questions:
• The first three books of the Bible are Genesis, Exodus and Laxatives.
• Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.
• David fought with the Finkelsteins, a race of people, who lived in biblical times.
• Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.
• The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.
One of the most helpful websites related to answering questions about Christianity is gotquestions.org. One of their posts deals with the number of questions in the Bible: “It is difficult to give a precise number because ancient Hebrew and Greek did not use punctuation…but Bible scholars estimate that there are approximately 3,300 questions in the Bible.”
I see three purposes behind questions in the Bible.
1. Questions can create doubts. The first question asked by the Serpent to Eve was designed to create doubt in Genesis 3:1: “Did God really say…? It all goes downhill from there, and it all started with a little question.
2. Questions can lead to discovery. The first question asked by God is found in Genesis 3:9. After Adam and Eve sin they shrink away in shame, trying to hide their guilt when they hear God ask, “Where are you?” This question was for their benefit and shows how God seeks to restore their relationship with Him. Questions can help us discover truth as evidenced when God asked Job 70 of them in the final chapters of the book bearing his name.
3. Questions can equip disciples. Also, the Bible records men and women asking faith questions. After the disciples asked, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” in Mark 4:38, they experienced a tremendous miracle and an unforgettable display of compassion.
As we come to the end of our Glad You Asked series, I want to thank you for asking such deep questions about Christianity. I trust you’ve been equipped with answers to help you grow and go with the gospel to your family, neighbors, coworkers, classmates and friends. If you missed any of the messages, you can find them all in video, audio and full-text formats on the new and improved Edgewood mobile app. Simply search for “Edgewood QC” in the Apple App Store or Google Play…or you can ask Ben Huisman to help you download it.
Last week we asked the question, “How do you explain election and free will?” and summarized what Scriptures teaches, “God is supremely sovereign and we are responsible to respond to Him.” We concluded by reading Romans 11:33-36 to show doctrine must lead to doxology. In response to the message, an Edgewood attender sent me an insightful email this week. I have his permission to share some of it.
Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord presents us with undeniable truths that we mere mortals are unable to reconcile completely in our finite minds? It’s as if He offers us proof that His mind is infinite and He designs certain truths to be complex enough to humble us through our inability to fully grasp them. We are reminded through these things that He is God and we are not. God is the central (and only important) figure and His perfect plans and purposes are always fulfilled.
Our question today is closely related to the one from last weekend: “Does prayer change God’s mind?”
According to Revelation 22:13, God knows all things past, present and future because He has always been and He will always be: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 2 Samuel 22:31 says it is impossible for God to improve upon any plan He has made: “This God—His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true.”
So, does prayer change God’s mind? Here’s my answer in a sentence: Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing my mind so my will lines up with His will.
Let’s go back to an event recorded in Exodus. While Moses was up on the mountain, the people made an idol, a golden calf, and went wild as they fulfilled their pleasures and immoral appetites. In Exodus 32:10, God warned Moses, “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
In response, Moses took on the role of a mediator and pleaded for God to show mercy in verses 11-12: “But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, ‘O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.”