The Loudmouth Protestant

April 21, 2009

Prayer Doesn’t Change God’s Mind

Yesterday I happened upon a post by EIC Steven Waldman entitled “Your Prayers Will Not Change God’s Mind.” The post  brings to light the thought that our prayers don’t change God’s mind since God is timeless. This coming from the mouth of esteemed Oxford professor Keith Ward–and he isn’t the first person to posit this.

So what is this walk with Christ if not a series of questions that we must ask ourselves? I had to ask myself if I ever realized this or did I really think that my prayers were changing God’s mind? Put in the proper perspective, it makes logical sense that our prayers don’t change God’s mind because when one thinks deeply about–and you don’t even have to go deep if you know the word, it’s clear that our prayers couldn’t possibly change God’s mind. How is that possible?

Well first off, God is a supreme being. He’s omnipresent and omnipotent. He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb. He knows every hair on our head. He knows the plans He has for us. He sent his only begotten son to die for our sins. He called us to a life in Christ before we even knew what it was. He makes all things work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He knows we’ll make many plans but His plan prevails. His own son prayed for the cup of suffering to be removed, but nevertheless His will be done. I didn’t make any of this up, it’s all in His book. Given all of that, why would our praying change His mind? It would take away his providence and power if mere humans could shift the outcome of a situation through prayer.

What about free will? Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you live by free will, you most likely aren’t living a surrendered life. Free will means you are free to choose the outcome according to your–limited–understanding of a situation. One who lives according to free will might pray, but they’ll get up from their knees and decide what choice they want to make. Or maybe they won’t pray because they figure they can solve it on their own. Touchy…

And if our prayers can’t change God’s mind, where does that leave intercessory prayer? Is it impossible to engage in intercessory prayer if you believe your prayers will not change God’s mind? So if that’s the case, praying for the sick won’t make a difference because their livng or dying is not going to change because you pray but because it is God’s will.

Where does that put the old church mothers who kept telling us that prayer changes things? Because given this, prayer changes nothing, God changes things. And if anything, if we are to be so confident–and we should be–God changes us through prayers to align us with His will, not our own.

And lastly–or maybe not lastly, but I’m exhausted from the confluence of thoughts, “Where does that put prayer?” I mean, for me, it changes the manner of prayer. Not that I spend an exorbitant amount of time petitioning God for things, but it makes me feel that my only prayer to God should be, “You know what is before me, you know what I’d prefer to happen, but nevertheless, not my will but yours be done, I trust you, I surrender it all to you, do you God, In Jesus’ name,  Amen.”

Heavy stuff…I feel little out of sorts…



  1. Not sure, maybe he wants us just to proclaim it while believing in what he said. Maybe he wants us to see how his power works through us. I’m not sure, but thanks for the article.

    Comment by Monique — April 21, 2009 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

    • Monique, that makes sense, re: us proclaiming it while believing in what he said. I definitely think that’s a part of it and certainly why there has been a big shift to us speaking his word rather than having the long petition out. I just thought this was an interesting question put out there. Thanks for stopping by.

      Comment by loudmouthprotestant — April 21, 2009 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  2. Nicole,
    I really dig your handle of “loudmouthprotestant”.I am here to further confound you. If our prayers do not change anything,how is it that I was born in, from and of sin and bound for eternal hell, but am now saved?
    I can answer that. You see we, people, are so limited in our views that we tend to place our own limitations on God. Did you know, and I’m sure you do, that there are things that God cannot do? God cannot lie. God cannot look upon sin. God cannot save you without your permission. That’s right, unless you ask, under conviction of sin, God cannot save you with the precious blood of His Son. Romans 10:9
    When Jesus was hanging on the awful cross with all of my sins on His Holy body, His own Father had to turn His back because He could not look upon the sin the I caused Jesus to become. Luke 23:44,45
    God cannot lie because that would make His word useless. Neither can He go back on His word for the same reason. But He can alter or delay His plans according to His own actions. Exodus 32,33
    God is most of all our Father. He created us in His image to choose to worship Him. He wants us to choose to worship because He did not create us as puppets on strings. The very fact that we get the awesome responsibility of choosing Jesus or not shows that.
    God does know all possibile pathes of our future, because He is God. But also, because He is God, He can choose to allow us to petition Him for, firstly our salvation, and then for His will to choose a different future than the one that we may be looking at at the time.
    Now, with that being said, we must always submit to Him that as The Father, He knows best and will do what He knows is best for us at the given time. Matthew 7:9-11
    James 4:2
    James 5:16

    If that confuses you more, then pray for God’s will to help with understanding. Just remember, if we understand it all, then He ain’t God and we’re just lost.


    I pray that you yourself have, at one time asked Jesus to be your savior. “Cause if you have, then I get to meet you at our Father’s house!

    Comment by Terry Lee — August 13, 2009 @ 10:08 pm | Reply

  3. Growing up in a conservative congregation “Church of Christ” (not the United Church of Christ) similar to the Southern Baptist church if anyone is unfamiliar I was taught that God was a god of Love but equally one of Justice and was unable to be in the presence of sin. In order to prevent punishment rightly deserved God sent his only son to atone for humanity’s sin (since he cannot bear to be in the presence of sin justice was resolved through the shedding innocent blood) Is this not the antithesis of justice?
    If I murdered several innocent people would those hurt the worst (families friends…) by my acts of cruelty (along with the justice system itself) allow another person to step in and be punished for the crimes I committed? Would justice be served? Would society look at the situation and consider allowing my grandmother to serve a life in prison while I ran free? When a heinous crime is committed do we consider who committed the crime irrelevant as long as someone is punished? Would we be appeased by simply someone shedding blood? What about if that person had done no wrong ? Is this justice?
    This isn’t justice it is the the equivalent of Shirley Jackson’s story The Lottery on cosmic scale with a supreme being who in the end can only be appeased with blood shed. This is objectively barbaric but seems completely sane because of our upbringing. Was this Christ’s purpose on earth? To shed his blood acting as a barrier between humanity and a creator who is omnipotent yet creates a situation which ultimately causes his son unspeakable suffering.
    This is how most christian faiths see Christ. Not through his own words or teachings but through the lens of Paul who never knew Christ in the flesh. If we call ourselves “Christians” is it not vital to first look at what Christ has to say about himself? Are his teachings primarily about his death or about how we love God by loving others? “A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another…”

    Comment by Courtland — December 28, 2009 @ 4:22 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: