Prayer Theology

The Purpose of Prayer

In this advent before Thanksgiving, when we have been called as a nation to give thanks to our Creator, I have sought to move us back to an older view of prayer. So far in this short series we have looked at What is Prayer, The Prescription of Prayer, and the Posture of Prayer. In this post, I would like us to examine the purpose of prayer. To some of you, this may seem obvious, but I would ask you to re-examine that presupposition and maybe your presuppositions about God’s nature, and consider this.

If I could define the purpose of prayer, I would default to the purpose of pretty much everything, God’s glory. It is first in the Shorter Catechism, the chief purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. If that is true, then to glorify God is the chief purpose of prayer.

 

Although God has no need of our adoration, He is glorified thru it in our prayers for these reasons, among others:

  1. Prayer is evidence of dependence upon His power
  2. Dependence upon His sovereignty
  3. Dependence upon His mercy
  4. To allow us to approach him through his grace

 

Believers do not pray, with the view of informing God about things unknown to him, or of expecting him to do his duty, or of urging him as though he were reluctant. On the contrary, they pray, in order that they may arouse themselves to seek him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on his promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into his bosom; in a word, that they may declare that from Him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things.- Calvin

 

Another purpose of prayer is that prayer is a means that He uses to accomplish His will. God’s sovereignty allows for the willing use of men to carry out His will. He is not a puppet master, but he does sovereignly use prayer to influence men to accomplish his divine purposes. It is important by now, to begin to see the insignificance of our purposes when we pray. Our purposes, although still important to God, should be secondary to our intent to accomplish God’s purposes, and prayer is a means to do that primarily.

 

A request becomes a “vain repetition” if it is only a babbling of words without a sincere heart desire to seek and do God’s will. –Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Mt 6:5). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

One thing we may need to be reminded of is that we do not pray to change God’s mind or to remind of something we would have him do or be to us. God is immutable. He never changes. In that sense, he does not change his mind about something he previously thought. If he did, then his initial thought would have been incorrect, by definition. God is never wrong. Furthermore, God does not forget or is ever in need of our reminders. He may appreciate our reminding him of his promises for the purpose of our relationship with him, but that is not to say that he has forgotten them and needs us to restate them. The purpose of prayer is not so that we can change God into our image, but so that he can change us into his. Our pleas to him about situations we experience are not surprises to him. He knew the situation existed before it happened and knew you would pray about it before you did. That is not to say that we should not pray about those things, but that we need to have this in mind about God as we do.

 

‎God needs no reminders as if He does not know or requires a jog in His memory. Verse 9 (Mat 6) is clear about that: He knows what any need is before a person presents the matter. He basically has a word to give so that those who pray can pray in line with it—His will, already planned—rather than their giving Him new ideas to maneuver Him their way.- Rosscup, J. E. (2008). An Exposition on Prayer in the Bible: Igniting the Fuel to Flame Our Communication with God (1468).

 

Prayer brings our will into subjection to His, therefore sanctifies us. It is primarily a western view of worship that leads us to believe that the primary purpose of prayer is so that our lives can be filled with stuff and made void of trouble. Over and over, we have entered into the throne of grace only to expose our poor motives of selfishness and dishonor God by twisting his arm to give us our wants. Oh, I know, God is interested in our desires, but don’t you think that his main interest is to make our desires reflect his? In fact, if that’s true, and it is, we ought to make it our purpose before we pray, to give him the freedom to change us into agents of his will, instead of praying for those things we make greater than his will (success, wealth, happiness, pleasure, etc.).

 

Let those who approach Him be separated to His own way, not coming to manage Him into line with their ideas.- Rosscup, J. E. (2008). An Exposition on Prayer in the Bible: Igniting the Fuel to Flame Our Communication with God (1468).

 

The purpose of prayer is to glorify God’s name, and to ask for help to accomplish His will on earth. This prayer begins with God’s interests, not ours: God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will. Robert Law has said, “Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done in earth.-”Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Mt 6:5). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

Some other purposes of prayer begin with God’s forgiveness. We have forgiveness because prayer is a means which He communicates it to us. Prayer restores us to right fellowship .1 John 1:9 tells us that.

God’s provision of grace comes from prayer. God hears our pleas and loves us.

Ro 8:26–27

He provides us with grace in times of need ‎6 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. 8:27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.

 

He also works His compassion to us.

 

Heb 4:14–16

4:14 Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 4:15 For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. 4:16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.

 

God’s delivers us. How many times has He left us in our circumstances but given us strength to deal with them or has given us peace in the midst of them?

 

Phil 4:6-7

4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 4:7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Through prayer God has given us wisdom. How many times has He removed our suffering, shown us His strength, replaced enemies with friends, drawn us closer to Him?

 

I hope this does nothing but give you a more full and rich view of your prayer life and God’s purpose in it. I remember when I began to study prayer. I quickly realized that prayer is something we take for granted in our lives and neglect in our teaching. It changed me forever, to understand prayer better. If it doesn’t change you in that way, I do hope this causes you to at least be more thankful for prayer and hopefully, not continue to take prayer for granted, as I did.

This Thanksgiving, pray like never before.

Donnie
I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice
http://www.southernbyhisgrace.com

60 thoughts on “The Purpose of Prayer”

    1. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will

      The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Eph 1:11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

      1. is that not saying that “in whom also we were made, being predestined according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”, that after our accepting of God, Christ, and the holy spirit, that we possess each other. That his will is predestined, but only in action after we choose him and accept his will as our own?

        1. My point was not that Calvinism is true (although I think this passage is rather clear that it is). My point is that part that says God works ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO THE COUNSEL OF HIS WILL. If you needed a verse…he always accomplishes his will according to Paul.

          1. To that, God’s will shall be done in the end, but not everything that occurs is his will. This is my stance. I believe this scripture is acknowledging predestination, but in that through God knowing all in advance, he knew and made decisions. Not that he willed for Trump to go to Hell, and Cruz be saved. Instead, he wills for all to be saved, but not all choose to be saved.

            This based on my understanding of predestination being “determined before it occurred”, which doesn’t say to me that God “predetermined” a person to hell, but he knew what they would choose and utilizes these choices accordingly.

            He has predetermined EVERYTHING, right? He knows all, so he can work with our mistakes to still accomplish his will.

          2. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

            The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Eph 2:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society
            As far as I know, dead people aren’t able to save themselves. Furthermore, you and I were by nature children of wrath and always chose accordingly.
            Unregenerate people are enslaved to sin. They make free choices and always choose according to their nature. That is why when you were regenerate by the Holy Spirit you were able to make a choice to trust Christ, he gave you a new nature that enabled you to do so. Otherwise you would die in the unregenerate state at enmity with God.
            JOB 15:14-16; PS 53:3; PROV 20:6; ECC 9:3; IS 53:6; JER 17:9; HOS 6:7; MAT 15:19; JOHN 3:19; ROM 3:9-19; ROM 5:12-14; ROM 11:32; 1 COR 2:14; GAL 3:22; TIT 3:3; 1 PET 1:18; 1 JOHN 1:8, 10 etc.

          3. What do you do with this then: 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

  1. I know that Jesus`s prayer was an example as how to pray but he said “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,” which certainly implies that His Father’s will is not always done at every moment (otherwise, why would we need to pray that it might be done).

    1. Keith. I respectfully disagree that this implies that God’s will is not always done at every moment. We are instructed to pray this to ask that our wills may bend to the will of the Father. John Calvin explained it as follows in his commentary on the Lord’s prayer:

      It is, no doubt, a holy desire, when we bow to the will of God, and acquiesce in his appointments. But this prayer implies something more. It is a prayer, that God may remove all the obstinacy of men, which rises in unceasing rebellion against him, and may render them gentle and submissive, that they may not wish or desire any thing but what pleases him, and meets his approbation.

      Read more: http://www.lords-prayer-words.com/commentary_sermon_john_calvin_verse_10.html#ixzz43VJ1UMBF

      John Wesley states in his study notes on the Lord’s prayer the following:

      Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven – May all the inhabitants of the earth do thy will as willingly as the holy angels: may these do it continually even as they, without any interruption of their willing service; yea, and perfectly as they: mayest thou, O Spirit of grace, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make them perfect in every good work to do thy will, and work in them all that is well pleasing in thy sight.

      Read more: http://www.lords-prayer-words.com/wesleys_bible_study_notes.html#ixzz43VKjWeRD

      Finally, Spurgeon stated the following in his sermon on the Lord’s prayer:

      “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”—Matthew 6:10.

      OUR Father’s will shall certainly be done, for the Lord “doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” Let us adoringly consent that it shall be so, desiring no alteration therein. That “will” may cost us dear; yet let it never cross our wills: let our minds be wholly subjugated to the mind of God. That “will” may bring us bereavement, sickness, and loss; but let us learn to say, “It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.” We should not only yield to the divine will, but acquiesce in it so as to rejoice in the tribulation which it ordains. This is a high attainment, but we set ourselves to reach it. He that taught us this prayer used it himself in the most unrestricted sense. When the bloody sweat stood on his face, and all the fear and trembling of a man in anguish were upon him, he did not dispute the decree of the Father, but bowed his head and cried, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

      So when Christ taught us to pray “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”, He was not implying that the Father’s will isn’t always done on earth, but was instructing us to pray that our wills would be in line with the Father’s.

      Read more: http://www.lords-prayer-words.com/sermon_charles_spurgeon_bible_study_heavenly.html#ixzz43VNYRWf6

      1. So, my sin is his will? I’m not saying he can’t still accomplish his will and use my, or anyone’s, sin. Simply, is my sin his will? Is the rap of children his will? etc.

          1. Is my sin, God’s will? Again, not asking if God can use my sin for good, but is my action in sin, God’s will?

          2. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to answer this unless you can clarify or define the word “will” as you mean it here. Sometimes I’m a little slow. Sorry. Do you mean to ask “Is my sin what God determines, allows, or declares? or Is my sin what God desires or prescribes?”?

          3. I mean God’s will in the same way you do. So how is it you mean “God’s will”? After giving your definition, my question is, “is my sin his will?”

          4. It’s as much of an answer as questions in response to my questions…. 😉

            Here’s another way… Is God’s will the only thing done? Nothing outside of his will is done on earth? Any and all variations in the definition of his will. Is everything that occurs on this planet, his will?

          5. All things that happen (all evil, sickness, hatred, even your sin) in the Universe happen by way of his declarative will. Refer to previous post to understand what declarative will includes.

      2. “He was not implying that the Father’s will isn’t always done on earth, but was instructing us to pray that our wills would be in line with the Father’s”

        Why wouldn’t Jesus simply say, pray “thy will be done in my heart”, if that’s what he meant? The earth thing makes that confusing to my simple mind.

        1. Chance, is the Father’s name hallowed because we say it is? Is he in heaven because it is our prayer that he “art in heaven”? Does the state of his Kingdom depend upon our admission of it? Of course not. This Lord’s Prayer begins with worship built on the idea that the person praying acquiesce to the hallowed-ness of the name of God, the heavenliness of the Father, the imminence of His Kingdom, and the same with the will of the Father. The whole first half of the Lord’s Prayer (Christ’s instruction of how to pray) is worship and adoration! The prayer is being instructed to praise the name of the Father, to admit his sovereignty, and submit to his will. None of these things, the holiness of God, the Lordship of God, the plan of God, or the will of God, are contingent on our permission.

          1. My question was, why wouldn’t Jesus simply say “thy will be done in my heart”, instead of “in earth”? I really don’t understand why it would be so complicated. Why Jesus or God would say or write in the Holy Bible, things that aren’t meant literally. Why Jesus would say in earth, when he meant in my heart, because those are very different things. Especially when he is teaching the disciples how to pray. Did he then expect them to go find out somewhere that he actually meant “heart” not “earth”? Or did earth and heart have different meanings in their time?

            My point here is to continue the conversation, not be difficult. I’m asking these questions to understand where others stand on the issue. My question is very simple, why didn’t Jesus say heart if that’s what he meant? Where in the Bible is this explained, that earth means heart?

        2. He was acquiescing his will to the Father to show us how we should pray. Do you think that is a bad plan? Or would you rather the Father take your advice and do the things that you think are ‘good’?
          It’s kind of like when you tell your wife “whatever you want honey” after you tell her that you don’t want to wash the dishes tonight. You don’t want to do the dishes. You may have asked not to do the dishes. You are definitely not implying to her that she has your permission to ask you to do the dishes or that her will may not always be manifest in your doing of the dishes. You are simply acquiescing to her unspoken request that you do the dishes in a very non-literal sense.
          Of course the Bible is a piece of literature that is allowed to use literary devices to make points. Jesus was a real person who used real grammatical tools to convey truth to the people he was speaking to. The Gospel of Matthew is an historical account of what he said in his historical context, using human language, to real people. Why would you limit Jesus to simply making ‘literal’ statements?
          When Jesus said- “You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” were the people actually blind? Did they actually swallow a camel? The Bible, and the people in it, are allowed to use literary device. You shouldn’t expect this type strict ‘literal’ interpretation from the Bible when you don’t expect that from any other book or writing. When you read the newspaper do you think the Dodgers actually killed the Braves?
          Furthermore, if you place that type of literal-ness on the Scripture then those who disagree with you will always return the favor. (and you’ll be washing their logical dishes)

          1. We’re going down another goat trail here, but I understand. Quickly, I did not say that when Jesus speaks of gnats, or says something about a camel fitting through the eye of a needle, that this is a possible action. He is obviously making it easy for us to understand his point. This is different, as you know, from when he is giving clear and concise instruction.

            Travis made the response, so he knows what he meant and is the only one that can help me to understand his stance.

            “So when Christ taught us to pray “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”, He was not implying that the Father’s will isn’t always done on earth, but was instructing us to pray that our wills would be in line with the Father’s” –

            This states that Jesus meant for us to ask that the will of our hearts (which we discussed prayer serves to change the will in our hearts to that of God) be changed, and isn’t implying the will of God be performed or not, on earth. I firmly disagree, and this because the bible says so haha. But seriously. I believe Jesus said what he meant. He meant for us to pray that God’s will be done in earth. This line does not say pray that our will “be in line with the father”.

            If I were to ask a question here, it would be, Why did Jesus say pray “thy will be done in earth”, if he meant, pray “make my will to be in line with the Father’s”?

  2. If God’s will is not always done, why would this be? Because of free will? Because of a choice? I think so. God’s will can not always be done in this world as he set in motion with free will, or he would be in absolute control of me, murderers, rapists, the likes of Muhammad, Barrack Hussein Obama, Hillary Clinton, etc. God is perfect, all-knowing, and never changing, but with that he knew my request when he made his decisions. Also, everyone would be saved, right? (paraphrasing) God’s will is that all men are saved and come to know the truth. 1 Timothy 2: 1-4. God does not will for any to perish but that all would come to repent. 2 Peter 3: 9. Yet we know that few are saved.

    I sin daily, i’ve sinned at least twice today. Is this God’s will for me to sin? For me to smack babies and dare my wife to mess up another fried bologna sandwich?

    Therefore, I do believe we make choices outside of God’s will (I’m not really sure why God would will for me to reference a bologna sandwich) and God does take our requests into consideration; whether that be at that very moment or at his first thought of my creation.

    1. I’m curious why one would pray to such a god. If he has no power to bring to pass those things he determines, what makes you think he can do whatever it is you petition of him?
      The context of the passages are important and your interpretation is easily dispatched, but let’s just say that God has never said that he desires all of ‘humankind’ to be saved.
      The issue you raise (is God the 1st cause of evil) is ill conceived. He often uses evil acts to accomplish his will as in Joseph’s statement to his brothers “you meant it for evil, God meant it for good”. Furthermore, has it occurred to you that these people you mentioned may have been or are being used as tools of judgement?
      Finally, the fact that you don’t understand or disapprove of Gods actions has no bearing on whether his will is being accomplished. To make our understanding is the real Remember this and stand firm,
      recall it to mind, you transgressors,
      9  remember the former things of old;
      for I am God, and there is no other;
      I am God, and there is none like me,
      10  declaring the end from the beginning
      and from ancient times things not yet done,
      saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
      and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
      11  calling a bird of prey from the east,
      the man of my counsel from a far country.
      I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
      I have purposed, and I will do it. bologna here. Is 46

      1. furthermore, I completely agree that God uses sin to accomplish his will, or any other action outside of his will, to do good and his purpose… Such as using Pilate, jews, and Herrod? to hang Christ from the cross. I wasn’t God’s will for us to sin, but God ordained these actions to serve his purpose.

          1. Do you agree that to sin is not God’s will?

            it’s not his will (such as for those to sin), but he uses that sin to serve his purpose. He makes something clearly not his will (sin), to become his will.

          2. What you are talking about is actually two different things. Most theologians make the distinction between God’s determinate will and his will of desire. God desires things that he chooses not to bring to pass, thus his will of desire is that we do not sin. He does not determine that we won’t though. He allows us to choose to sin making us the a secondary cause while he is the primary or “unmoved mover” as Aristotle would’ve understood causes. God works with our actions to bring about his determinate will.
            b. Divine concurrence. This may be defined as that work of God by which He co-operates with all His creatures and causes them to act precisely as they do. It implies that there are real secondary causes in the world, such as the powers of nature and the will of man, and asserts that these do not work independently of God. God works in every act of His creatures, not only in their good but also in their evil acts. He stimulates them to action, accompanies their action at every moment, and makes this action effective. However, we should never think of God and man as equal causes; the former is the primary, and the latter only a secondary cause. Neither should we conceive of them as each doing a part of the work like a team of horses. The same deed is in its entirety both a deed of God and a deed of man. Moreover, we should guard against the idea that this co-operation makes God responsible for man’s sinful deeds. This doctrine is based on Scripture, Deut. 8:18; Ps. 104:20, 21, 30; Amos 3:6; Matt. 5:45; 10:29; Acts 14:17; Phil. 2:13

            Berkhof, L. (1938). Summary of Christian doctrine (pp. 59–60). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.

  3. HAHA. Valid point, who am I to question for a moment that God wouldn’t understand the awesomeness of and request the use of a bologna sandwich; even creating this discussion purely for the remembrance of delicious bologna. My apologies.

    I didn’t say that God doesn’t bring to pass that which he determines. I did mention that he must (because he says he grants such things) use my faithful prayers in what he allows to pass, for he calls me to make requests in faith, and “they will be done”.

    I firmly believe that his word is holy and unwavering, that stands to back up my belief in his word that says he will meet my requests. As a Christian that is faithfully searching his will and asking for his will, I believe he has and will continue to mold MY will to become HIS will (NOTE: my will is changing to his, and his remains perfect and unchanged). This goes into what we briefly touched on, in that with choice, things may not occur that could have because I didn’t ask. As Keith mentioned, it’s as if God holds a blessing or gift in one hand, and all i have to do is ask for it. But if I do not ask, I will not receive that blessing. If I am not ready, I will not receive that blessing. Such is the way of the non-believer, they will not attain God’s wisdom, power, blessings, etc. because they did not accept him nor faithfully make requests.

    John 15: 7. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

    James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

    Matthew 21:21. And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.

    Psalm 37: 4-5. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

    *another baby smacked* …..

    1. John 15: 7. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (Is what will be done contingent upon abiding in Christ? Or, do the words of God abiding in the Christian bring about proper wishes (God’s will) resulting in it (God’s will) being done ‘for you’?

      James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
      (If God is holding out is it because the person asking is asking in a wrong way, or is it because they are not asking for something in God’s will?

      Matthew 21:21. And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.
      (Have faith in what? Maybe God’s promises he accomplishes by the determinate council of his will?)

      Psalm 37: 4-5. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
      (If you delight yourself in the Lord, the desires of your heart will be in his will. If you believe his promise (trust him), he will act-according to his promise that he has already predetermined to accomplish or it would not be a promise)

      1. I kind of think we agree (because I do believe that as we seek him, pray, accept him and his will, our will is changed to his. Therefore, what we ask for will often be of his will), except in that his “predetermination” means he retains full control and causes us to sin, say bologna, etc. My understanding his that since he knew all before we were here and acted, he was able to predetermine (determine beforehand) who would choose him, who would not, when we will ask for his will, etc.

          1. So, what is it you mean by predetermined? What is free will? What did God allow us to choose? Why did he say we have free will if he is controlling our choices? Even though we accept him and his will, lets say our prayer is of his will, we are still prone to our evil nature and pray outside of his will, and do things not of his will. How is this his will if it is not his will? Or do you mean our sins are of his will?

          2. On top of the previously posted questions…

            Does prayer have any effect outside of self growth with God? If so, in what ways?

            Is God’s will ALWAYS done?

            Do we have free will? Why or why not?

  4. Also,
    “If he did (change his mind), then his initial thought would have been incorrect, by definition.”

    Is EVERYTHING right or wrong? Can something be indifferent?

    1. Chance,
      It seems to me that you’re doing a lot of philosophical gymnastics to avoid the idea that God is actually and really sovereign. There are problems with messing with theology proper (the study of God) that lead to major heresy. Many of the attributes of God are well established Biblically and therefore theologically. Immutability and righteousness are two attributes that are at stake here. God never changes and his plans and purposes are always accomplished. This immutability of God is clearly taught in such passages of Scripture as Ex. 3:14; Ps. 102:26–28; Isa. 41:4; 48:12; Mal. 3:6; Rom. 1:23; Heb. 1:11, 12; Jas. 1:17.

      Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (pp. 58–59). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.

      Furthermore, God is not an amoral being. His qualities including all of his thoughts, plans, decisions, etc. are always moral. In fact they are always right. God is not indifferent because his very nature is the grounding of morality. God IS good. God doesn’t merely do good things. He is not lax in his goodness and he does not rest or sleep.

      Prayer does have an effect outside of self-growth with God (sanctification), although that seems to be satisfactory. As we said yesterday, prayer is a means or tool that God uses to accomplish his will, similar to preaching and evangelism. We do not save people when we give the gospel or preach and people have no ability in and of themselves to believe the gospel. Yet, God uses those means to save people.

      That brings us back to human freedom. I do believe that humans have freedom to make choices etc. The distinction I make, and the one that I believe the Bible is very clear about, is that people are in a state of slavery to their sinful nature (Rom 3:10-18) until God by his grace gives them a freedom (Gal 5:1) to choose against their old nature (John 6:44). This requires a brand new nature (Eph 4:20-24).
      It’s also important to recognize that this is NOT Calvinism. It is Christian orthodoxy. To say that people have an innate ability to choose God (a spark of goodness) is another heresy condemned by the Church many years ago called Pelagianism.

      1. No gymnastics, I’m too old for that stuff.. Although, a little Jean Claud Vandamme never hurt nobody….

        Again, I agree that his will shall be done, but is EVERYTHING that is done, his will?

        Saying that some actions on earth may be indifferent to right and wrong, is not saying that GOD is less than perfectly moral. I refer to actions on earth, can something on earth be neither right nor wrong?

        With the prayer question, maybe a more clear question is, does the action of prayer have any affect on God “doing” something, or will God be “doing” this action either way? Are the only answered prayers, that which God was going to do with or without the prayer?

        1. Again, you are not clarifying what you mean by God’s will. So I’ll let you figure out if there’s a distinction to be made between declarative and prescriptive will.
          Sure, there are choices made on earth that are amoral. Coke or Pepsi is an amoral decision. But let’s be clear, that’s not what we’re talking about. God doesn’t care if you like Coke or Pepsi (although that doesn’t negate any possibility of whether he determines what you’ll do about it). God’s will, that which he chooses, is always moral, although our choices may not seem to be. If God determines something to be so, then it is a moral decision, though maybe not immediately. If God prescribes something to us, it is also a moral decision God has made.
          God allows (determines to allow) people to become sick and to die horrible deaths, never hearing the gospel. Is it wrong for him to do so? No. He has his reasons and he has the right to do so ( 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
          14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.)
          The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 9:12–16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
          Job 38 is one of the clearest statements on this question. It is among many passages that place God’s sovereign control above our autonomy.
          Finally, the prayer question that keeps coming up is really not that difficult if one is willing to admit that God is sovereign in a real sense. He asks you to come boldly to him. He tells you to ask for what you desire. He says that you have not because you ask not. But each of these statements and the others not listed predicate on the idea that they are always in God’s will. This is demonstrated by Jesus as he prays “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Jesus was in affect saying-I’d like to not drink of the cup but it is obviously not your will so I’ll do it anyway. So yes, God’s determinative will-that which he sovereignly declares will happen-will happen regardless of our prayers. That doesn’t mean that our prayers aren’t answered in a real sense if you understand that people who are being sanctified are often praying things that are God’s will therefore their supplications are being answered in the affirmative. While it is still true that we sometimes pray for selfish reasons, etc. and those prayers are usually answered in a negative way. Sometimes God gives us what we want even though he’d rather (prescriptive will) we wanted something other than what we pray. Each of these are answered according to God’s declarative will but not necessarily according to his prescriptive will. God’s declarative will is always accomplished but his prescriptive will may not be.
          This distinction must be made or you will always end up in a mired up misunderstanding of God’s will. Unfortunately, its pretty common to try to make God conform to our presuppositions of autonomy and our ideas of what’s right and accidentally do damage to his holiness.

  5. “Sometimes God gives us what we want even though he’d rather (prescriptive will) we wanted something other than what we pray.”

    What are you saying here? God gives us things that we ask for?

          1. What are these versus saying then?

            James 5:14-15
            “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And THE PRAYER OF FAITH WILL SAVE the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

            Matthew 21:22
            “And whatever you ASK IN PRAYER, YOU WILL RECEIVE, if you have faith.”

            John 14:13
            “Whatever you ASK IN MY NAME, THIS I WILL DO, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

            John 16:24
            “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. ASK, AND YOU WILL RECEIVE, that your joy may be full.”

            Matthew 7:7
            “ASK, AND IT WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

            James 1:6-8
            “But let him ASK IN FAITH, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

            Romans 10:13
            For “everyone who CALLS on the name of the Lord will be saved.” — “calls on the name of the Lord”, would that be asking through prayer?

            Matthew 17:20
            “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

            Romans 10:10
            “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

            John 9:31
            “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, GOD LISTENS TO HIM.”

            Ask and I will receive… or don’t ask, you’ll receive anyway. I don’t see the second part that says “I’ll receive whether or not i ask.” I only see the part where I’m instructed to ASK, IN ORDER TO RECEIVE. Maybe our prayers are valuable in the way GOD SAYS they are?

          2. Literally?
            Prayer saves people, not grace.
            If I want a Ferrari all I have to do is ask.
            Ask for a ranch in Montana, go seek for it, and knock on the door of their cabin and its mine.
            If I think God’s going to give me what I ask for, I’m a schizophrenic.
            Everyone who says “Lord help me” is going to heaven.
            If I just believe, then I can make Holston Mtn move to Argentina.
            No sinner can be saved by praying because God doesn’t hear them.

            Listen, I (and the theologians of the last 1600 years) have good commentaries, etc. that explain each of those passages. I don’t have time nor am I inclined to give my personal commentary on each one of them. It simply won’t do any good because you refuse to step outside of your presupposition that your autonomy is the most precious thing that God created. That’s fine. Let is be sufficient to say this: God has the power and the right (sovereignty) to do whatever he wishes with you or me. You have no right to tell God otherwise. You are the creature. He is the Creator. None of the passages you have brought up or may in the future bring up do any damage to this idea of God’s COMPLETE sovereignty either exegetically or theologically. Know this-you are in a very lonely camp when it comes to prayer. Good luck finding any theologian who has sympathy with your idea that prayer coerces God into some undecided territory.

          3. I’m unsure of where to begin; I’ve thought of many ways. Some from anger, some from a desire to defend myself against false accusations, but God keeps telling me to erase those words. I want for these discussions to always glorify God, I know you agree. This was supposed to be about brothers in Christ sharing their thoughts, especially when different, and we can use each other to find the truth; to also enjoy doing so, instead of boring ol studying on our own.

            So whats important: to glorify God, and seek the truth.

            Not to win a debate, but to seek the truth, I ask for clarification on some of these views that I disagree with. I want answers to such bold statements that say the scripture doesn’t mean what it says it means. This answer should be a biblical reference, not of man. The more my questions aren’t answered, the more I believe the Bible is telling the truth. The more I read angry, aggressive tones, the stronger my feet are planted in my Faith in God. I ask for the truth, I seek the truth.

            I once heard of a group of Christians, that were meeting to learn to defend the faith. Here I am, a Christian asking for scripture to be explained. “don’t have time”?

          4. Alright, I want you to understand as I have already told you that I am not angry “even remotely”. Okay?
            My tone can come across angry or debateive sometimes and I do apologize.
            Let’s be fair though. My “accusation” is only that you are reading your presupposition into the Scripture and that is why you are not able to see my perspective on the same Scripture. That is a summary of what I tried to tell you in text. It’s not mean to do that and I am not trying to say you’re being dishonest by doing it. I am simply giving you my assessment of the “why” question that you keep asking.
            I also told you that I am not trying to win a debate or to necessarily get you to see my point of view. I am glad to present my position if given the chance, but I would rather you come to you own conclusion using proper theological methods. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
            Finally, if you don’t mind, please pick one question at a time. It is difficult to answer your question and then five more be put in its place. Rather, it might be better to ask a question, discuss my answer and your disagreement with my answer (how we get there rather than what it is). It seems as though you are constantly moving the goal posts so I am going from prayer to will to God, etc. I know they are interconnected but theology is done systematically. One idea builds off of another. Would that be okay?
            PS To tone down the discussion I’ll try and do my part, but try and understand. If you use phrases like ” I want answers to such bold statements that say the scripture doesn’t mean what it says it means” or “The more my questions aren’t answered, the more I believe the Bible is telling the truth” you are attacking. I believe the Bible is God’s infallible and inerrant Word and am 100% a Sola Scriptura adherent. I am merely trying to get you to see that the Bible is a book that deserves the same treatment as other works of literature. It is not a magic book and it is not written “to” you in the sense that you seem to understand it. It is to be understood in its historical grammatical context and it can never mean something other than what the writers intentions were to communicate.
            Do we have a deal?

          5. Let’s discuss it then. I implore you to also have an open mind, let us both allow the Holy Spirit to consume this conversation, to glorify God and bless us with incredible truth.

            The issue with your stance is, I do know where you are coming from, as you’ve stated many times, John Calvin. This is why Calvinism was brought up in the beginning of this, predestination, no true free will, God made every decision before creation and did not take into account our human action (prayer, sin, desire, etc). I’m not a calvinist, we come from different foundations. Therefore, I do not need to preface my beliefs on prayer with predestination and lack of free will. So yes, lets please stay on topic, the Bible. My questions are very simple, “Show me this in the Bible”. This I will ask to everything offered in relation to prayer, free will, Adam and Eve, predestination, etc. As a Christian that takes the Bible at its word, I do not believe this is difficult, it is actually the easiest question that could be asked. e.g. I’ve heard here, “thy will be done in earth” isn’t actually Jesus teaching us to ask God that his will be done “in earth as it is in heaven”, so what is the most elementary question to ask?! Where does the Bible tell me this? To gain understanding, not to debate. To get to the point, not muddle around the clear words of scripture to present a stretched out, extreme view. Isn’t logic a great tool that our true God blessed us with to study his word and know truth?

            No where have I found in God’s word that I need a PhD to learn. That is contradictory in my view, as he speaks of resembling a child. Do children have complicated theology that has taken 1600 years to decode and present to us simple minded adults? Their spirits are simplistic. Furthermore, Jesus alludes to it being quite simple to gain salvation, by choice.

            Mark 4:11-12 – And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of
            God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not
            perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be
            forgiven.”

            Anyone has the choice. Jesus felt it necessary to obscure his message in parables to keep certain people from responding to it. Had he preached the truth openly they would have turned and been forgiven. Seems pretty straight forward then, people would have gained salvation by simply hearing the truth and answering. Did they all search for highly complicated ways to decode God’s word? Or did they simply need to hear the truth, and choose? Point being, the truth is enough, we don’t need additions and stretches to get there.

            Prayer works because God says it does. Over and over and over, the scripture calls us to present ourselves and desires to the Father, and he will give. No one is saying, “ask for a Ferrari”, as I’ve seen taken to an extreme here, nor is prayer or praying in Jesus’ name a “magical” action or word. No one claims that we can counsel our Father. No one claims we can change our Father. No one claims God has no power over us, or that he can’t us every sin to serve his will. No one claims God can’t use me as he sees fit, in contrast, God blessed me with a choice. I am not limiting God, I’m giving him glory for blessing me and everyone the opportunity to know him and receive undeserved blessings, because he is Love, compassion, righteousness, all knowing, and all powerful. Yet he gave me a way to glory. I’m simply saying that the Bible says God will respond, so I believe it. If you know of another passage that says otherwise, please provide this. Here is my offering.

            1. Come to God in faith – “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:5-7)

            2. Pray in Jesus’ name – “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)

            3. Confess your sins first – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psalms 66:18)

            4. Must be living for God – “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9)

            5. Do God’ will – “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31)

            6. Be free of strife in all relationships (home, work, church) – “Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7)

            7. BE BOLD – “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16)

            8. Persistance – “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. AND I SAY UNTO YOU, ASK, AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN YOU; SEEK, AND YE SHALL FIND; KNOCK, AND IT SHALL BE OPENED UNTO YOU” (Luke 11:5-9)

            Barnes says it well, so I offer his words to sum up my agreement.

            “This is to be applied to God in no other sense than that he often hears prayers and grants blessings even long after they appear to be unanswered or withheld. He leaves them to persevere for months or years, until they feel entirely their dependence on him, until they see that they can obtain the blessing in no other way, and until they are prepared to receive it. OFTEN THEY ARE NOT PREPARED TO RECEIVE IT WHEN THEY ASK IT AT FIRST. They may be proud, or have no just sense of their dependence, or they would not value the blessing, or it may at that time not be best for them to obtain it. But let no one despair. If the thing is for our good, and if it is proper that it should be granted, God will give it. Let us first ask aright; let us see that our minds are in a proper state; let us feel our need of the blessing; let us inquire whether God has promised such a blessing, and then let us persevere until God gives it. (Barnes Commentary of Luke)

            Luke 18:1-8 – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always
            pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared
            God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept
            coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

            “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or
            care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she
            gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”

            And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about
            justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them
            off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of
            Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

            Over and over, we read in the righteous word of God, cause and effect.. Ask and receive… seek and find… ask and receive.. do his will and he hears you… have inequity in your heart and God will not hear you… ask in Jesus name and he will do that… ask God for wisdom and it shall be given… Is that not contradictory to the presupposition that God will only do what he was going to do, no matter my action or request? Cause and effect.

            Logic – Why all of this if God will just be doing whatever he wants, no matter if we ask or the timing of our request? Why give lesson after lesson on how to pray, how to live, how to serve God, how to CHOOSE God (Acts 17:29-31 – God commands all to repent. Why command and warn us if we have no choice?). Why all this if it doesn’t really matter, because God is going to be a puppet master? The “why’s” go on and on, until we reach “why anything?, why does anything matter if God will just be doing what he wants in every action on earth. Why does a Calvinist need the Bible? You can’t choose God, he chose you. You can’t run away from God’s call (as Jonah did, then was swallowed up by the whale. If we can’t ignore Gods call, then Jonah nor anyone could have ran, even for a short time). So why do anything, because whatever you do is just because God willed it anyway. The Bible clearly states otherwise. If anyone needs to “dispatch” scripture, there are much bigger issues here.

            The word is clear, not complicated. No one certainly needs a theologian to bless me with knowledge, when Jesus clearly stated that simply speaking the truth would suffice to bring people to salvation (Mark 4:11-12. quoted previously). This is from the Bible.

            Again, if anyone that doesn’t agree, wants to answer some questions, or even just break down why prayer doesn’t serve to grant us faithful desires that glorify God, as scripture states, PLEASE show us the light. I sincerely say that. If I’m blinded to the truth, I’m here seeking it.. As well as in prayer and in the Holy Word of God.

            I care for each and every one of you guys. Please take this not as an attack, but a simple minded Christian seeking the only thing that matters, and wanting to do so with my Christian brothers and sisters.

            God bless us all and open our hearts and ears to your truth. (if you believe that request even matters 😉 )

          6. To the first point, where in the Bible does it teach e.g. I’ve heard here, “thy will be done in earth” isn’t actually Jesus teaching us to ask God that his will be done “in earth as it is in heaven? I have answered this question multiple times but once again, we are to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The main point is that God’s will be done despite our will which may or may not be in line with his. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21, ESV)
            This phrase is not asking that God’s determinate counsel come to pass or that God usher in those things that He has foreordained from eternity. Rather, we are praying for obedience to the revealed preceptive will of God—what He has made plain to us by way of His commandments. This third petition is a prayer for obedience on the part of God’s people, that those who are the people of God will obey the mandates of God.
            Sproul, R. C. (2009). Does Prayer Change Things? (Vol. 3, p. 32). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.
            God’s will is unchanging because God is unchanging. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17, ESV)
            ““For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6, ESV)
            And his mind never changes-“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19, ESV)
            “The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,” (Isaiah 14:24, ESV)
            These passages clearly say that God never changes, his mind never changes, his plans (ordained events, etc.) never change or fail, and mans plans do change, and God doesn’t bend his will to meet mens. Clear and completely Bible.
            None of the passages you cite directly address that point. They are descriptions of what men do and how God acts but none of them say any way that God doesn’t determine or ordain those actions beforehand.
            Point number 2. Can you explain to me why you don’t think you need to do theology and you can just sit and interpret Scripture on your own? You bring to the table a set of presuppositions just like the rest of us. Here’s one. The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that all of Scripture is easily understandable. Not one passage says that God’s Word is presented as a child, only that faith is childlike. That has nothing to do with the finer points of theology. It is not a contradiction at all to say that faith is simple and theology takes more effort. A contradiction is A is equal to non-A at the same time in the same sense. For example: God never changes and God changes his mind when people ask in prayer. That is a contradiction!
            The prayer controversy that you are interested in is not directly caused by Calvinism in the sense of Calvin’s thoughts about sovereign grace. What I base my thoughts about prayer is simply this: 1) G0d never changes 2) He has ordained all things 3) therefore prayer is not about coercing God to do things other than the things he has pre-ordained.
            That does not render prayer meaningless. It renders our ungodly desires meaningless. It doesn’t render prayer ineffective. Prayer is an effective tool used by God who by his grace freely chooses to use us, even when we don’t know what to pray he obtains his will through our prayers-“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26–27, ESV)
            Another point you make, “why pray if everything is already decided?”. Thats simple. You are commanded to pray. If you are unsure of anything else but the command of God, obey him. That’s all.
            Two questions that you have that you seem to conflate are 1) Does prayer change God? and 2) Does prayer change things?
            We have already answered the first one. No. God never changes and that is clearly presented throughout the Scriptures.
            The second has been answered as well, but not so tightly as the first. Yet, the answer is just as true. Prayer is a tool God uses to accomplish his will on earth, not the reverse. God is free and so are we but not in the sense that we have libertarian freedom or complete autonomy.
            He chose human agents—the Sabeans and Chaldeans, who were evil by nature—to steal Job’s animals. The Sabeans and Chaldeans were known for their thievery and murderous way of life. Their will was involved, but there was no coercion; God’s purpose was accomplished through their wicked actions.
            The Sabeans and Chaldeans were free to choose, but for them, as for us, freedom always means freedom within limits. We must not, however, confuse human freedom and human autonomy. There will always be a conflict between divine sovereignty and human autonomy. There is never a conflict between divine sovereignty and human freedom. The Bible says that man is free, but he is not an autonomous law unto himself. Suppose the Sabeans and Chaldeans had prayed, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” I’m absolutely certain that Job’s animals still would have been stolen, but not necessarily by the Sabeans and Chaldeans. God might have chosen to answer their prayer, but He would have used some other agent to steal Job’s animals. There is freedom within limits, and within those limits, our prayers can change things. The Scriptures tell us that Elijah, through prayer, kept the rain from falling. He was not dissuaded from praying by his understanding of divine sovereignty.

            Sproul, R. C. (2009). Does Prayer Change Things? (Vol. 3, p. 16). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.
            Why pray? God’s glory, our benefit.
            Jonathan Edwards wrote:
            With respect to God, prayer is but a sensible acknowledgement of our dependence on him to his glory. As he hath made all things for his own glory, so he will be glorified and acknowledged by his creatures; and it is fit that he should require this of those who would be subjects of his mercy … [it] is a suitable acknowledgement of our dependence on the power and mercy of God for that which we need, and but a suitable honor paid to the great Author and Fountain of all good.
            With respect to ourselves, God requires prayer of us … Fervent prayer many ways tends to prepare the heart. Hereby is excited a sense of our need … whereby the mind is more prepared to prize [his mercy] … Our prayer to God may excite in us a suitable sense and consideration of our dependence on God for the mercy we ask, and a suitable exercise of faith in God’s sufficiency, so that we may be prepared to glorify his name when the mercy is received. (The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974], 2:116)
            Interestingly, the fellow you quoted said:Let us first ask aright; let us see that our minds are in a proper state; let us feel our need of the blessing; let us inquire whether God has promised such a blessing, and then let us persevere until God gives it. (Barnes Commentary of Luke)
            Luke 18:1-8
            Notice his final emphasis that we make sure that the blessing we desire is one God has (already) promised and then preserver until we get it. In explanation: God’s will is that which he promised and we are to seek that!
            One last point other than the fact that if you would like to have the Calvinism discussion, this is not the context but I will abridge you anytime that we can work it out and I promise to use LOTS OF SCRIPTURE! I would like to deal with this continued idea that I am the one who is condescending and attacking. Statements that you continually make like: “If anyone needs to “dispatch” scripture, there are much bigger issues here.” No one is dispatching Scripture, only your interpretation of it. Please be careful as you choose your words. Once again, we (including me) are people who look to Scripture as the final authority for all matters of faith and practice. Scripture has been presented by all and to be honest, as you want answers for the passages you have presented and for the most part been given, I haven’t seen your response to any of the ones I’ve presented. Just saying.

  6. “we are to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

    So Jesus did mean to ask God for his will to be done in earth? Is this because (some of) his will isn’t already going to be done, or to change our will to his?

    To quote a previous post, “I respectfully disagree that this implies that God’s will is not always done at every moment. We are instructed to pray this to ask that our wills may bend to the will of the Father”

    Why pray for God’s will to be done, if it will be anyway, and the point of the prayer is to change our own will? Furthermore, why does our will need changing if God’s will on earth is going to be done anyway? If (some of) God’s will being done is reliant upon our will changing, then God’s will couldn’t have been done until our will changed. If (some of) God’s will isn’t reliant upon our will changing to serve him, then why would Jesus instruct us to pray “that our will’s change to that of the Father’s”? If I pray in order that my will shall change so that I may serve God, grow with him, glorify him, etc, wouldn’t this mean that my prayer does serve a purpose, one that wouldn’t have occurred unless I asked (hince, ask and receive)? Which would then mean that (some of) God’s will isn’t always done. Unless, you are saying that it is God’s will that people sin (murder, rap, abuse, torture, homosexuals, etc, etc) Or if these things aren’t God’s will, but he allows them and uses them… Then God’s will is not ALWAYS AND IN EVERYTHING, done.

    So far, I have come to understand this…

    From your view (Please correct as needed) –

    1. Prayer is answered by God, but only what God would have done whether I ask or not.
    2. Prayer serves to bring us closer to God, build the relationship, glorify him, change our will to his will, anything else?

    Question – Do you only pray for others, yourself, or both? If you pray for others, why? God’s will shall be done either way, correct?

    If prayer serves to change yourself only, would this mean you only pray for yourself? If you pray for others, why? You are praying for them only to serve yourself, if prayer only serves to influence your heart and your relationship with God. How would it glorify God for you to pray for others, in which, that prayer has no impact because God will heal (do in some way, not only a healing) them or he won’t, and the prayer then is building within your heart? Again, why would you pray for someone having zero faith that your prayer may influence God to act on them being healed (do in some way, not only healing)? The bible says to pray in faith, otherwise it won’t be done. The need for faith in prayer in order for “it to be done”, seems to say that the action (it being done) is reliant upon the catalyst (faith and prayer).

    Matthew 21:22
    “And whatever you ASK IN PRAYER, YOU WILL RECEIVE, IF YOU HAVE FAITH.”

    If you pray to serve your own heart, isn’t that God acting solely based on your prayer? 2 options here. Either God was going to change your will to his, build your relationship with him, etc, anyway… Or he did so because you prayed. The first indicates that prayer is pointless because he was going to do so no matter your action… the latter says that God does act based on your prayer, and would mean (some of) his will isn’t always done (as you have said, this would mean that God is “changing”, but I disagree).

    1. Here is the entire pericope of the Matthew passage you continuously use as evidence that we get what we want when we pray and Gods will is stemmed by ours: Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
      18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
      20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
      Now, do you think that is written directly to you so that you can perform miracles?
      Do you believe that there needs to be some work done here to find out IF there is an application for us and if so WHAT is the application?
      Be careful. That’s called exegesis and is a part of doing theology.

      1. Do you not think it means we have the same power to curse a fig tree? Jesus is the example of a life we should and could live, through our Father and the Holy Spirit.

        I welcome you to explain that verse and what it means. As well as, not overlooking the other 95% of my previous post 🙂

        Happy Easter everyone!!!!

        1. Don’t you think its odd that Jesus would curse a fig tree? It’s really out of character compared to the rest of his miracles. All of the other miracles have been positive (healing, demon removal, etc.). It’s also out of character of Jesus himself to loose his temper and curse a tree just because he’s hungry and the tree looks alive but is barren, isn’t it? What kind of example is he trying to be for the disciples? Is he saying, “if you get ticked at a fruit tree you can curse it too”? By application, does that mean we can curse fruit trees?
          None of that makes any sense. Obviously, there’s something else to be learned here.
          First of all, you have to be careful to understand that this is an historical account of something that happened. It is Matthew’s narrative of a miracle and Jesus’ conversation with his disciples. It is not a direct instruction or how to guide to the reader!
          Inside of that narrative is Jesus’ conversation, not with us, but with his disciples. Jesus conversation may give us some hints to help us understand why he curses a fig tree and steps seemingly way outside of his usual character. He may be using grammatical tools to communicate a concept other than “how to curse fruit trees”.
          At first glance, the verse you ref seems to be about prayer, especially “how to get what you want through prayer”. But, after we locate the verse back into its context, we quickly notice that the main thrust of the pericope is not about prayer at all. That is not to say that prayer is not a part of this passage, but it is definitely not the main idea.
          Jesus teaching to his disciples is one of faith. He is using a miracle to express some (yet unknown) concept and teach his disciples that their faith can do (not the same effect) greater things. Note: the author (Matthew and indirectly Jesus) means to say something. We are not allowed to make it something other than what they are trying to communicate.
          Most of the commentaries I read agree that Jesus is cursing the fig tree as a picture of Israel. The nation looks spiritual but it is bearing no fruit (Luke 13:6-9; Jer 8:13)). He is also looking at Mt Zion as he tells them that he can throw mountains into the sea. He is probably predicting the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. In all of this Jesus is probably teaching the disciples of their role in these eschatological events. He is probably fulfilling Zec 14:4 “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward.” (Zechariah 14:4, ESV)
          Now, as we have placed this in its historical and grammatical context, one of prophecy fulfillment, eschatological instruction to the disciples about Israel and the Church, and how they are to fulfill these things through faith expressed finally in prayer-a question remains. Faith in what?
          Faith as taught throughout the Scriptures is always expressed in the promises of God. Promises that God has said that he is faithful to fulfill. How? Because of his nature and character he fulfills his promises. He does what he says-always! He covenants with his people to do exactly what he says. Otherwise, why believe him at all?
          Now, we’ve only done the work of finding out what Jesus meant to say to his disciples. “Have faith in God’s promises, express it in prayer and you will be tools in these future events.” But, how or does that have any application to us?
          I think so.
          We don’t have any involvement in the events of Pentecost or AD 70, but we are reminded to be people of faith. We are to believe God’s promises and if we do, we will always express that in prayer. True Christian faith always expresses itself in prayer. Prayer though, can never be separated from true Christian faith in the promises of God. Selfish prayers for things outside of that are not true faith. Ver. 22. [And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, etc.—This promise is confined, of course, to prayers of faith (vers. 21 and 22), which implies agreement with the will of God, and excludes the abuse of this promise.—In John, Christ defines believing and effective prayer to be prayer in His name, John 14:13; 15:16; 16:24.—P. S.]

          Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew (p. 381). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
          As far as the rest: From your view (Please correct as needed) –

          1. Prayer is answered by God, but only what God would have done whether I ask or not.
          2. Prayer serves to bring us closer to God, build the relationship, glorify him, change our will to his will, anything else?
          I have told you multiple times that prayer is a means that God uses to accomplish that which he has ordained, not merely to sanctify believers. That is another reason to pray, as if we need another considering his command. Furthermore, (1) is a misrepresentation. God will accomplish his declarative will (ordained will) but he does so using prayer. That is the way he chooses to do it. Period.

          Question – Do you only pray for others, yourself, or both? If you pray for others, why? God’s will shall be done either way, correct?
          Of course I pray for others, including you BTW. Why? Because God commands me to do so. Furthermore, God uses those prayers to do his work both in me and in those people.

          The most important thing for me, as I pray or even merely think about God, is being careful not to misrepresent God’s nature and his character, not my freedom or autonomy or even to understand how those things coincide. God’s eternal nature is well represented in Scripture including the ones I have recently given you in these responses and you continue to ignore for the sake of your argument. They are clear and are in no way implicit. God is immutable. His mind never changes. He controls all of his creation. He always does what he says.
          My question is, you are so committed to the idea (not represented in Scripture) that God doesn’t always accomplish his will, and you say that you want to be Biblical, how do you get around these clear statements about God himself?

  7. I am pretty old fashion and do not care for communicating through electronic means. I much prefer to discuss things in person. Therefore, I haven’t been responding. However, I have read with much interest each post. I think something we all must take care to avoid when studying scripture is trying to make scripture conform to our presupposed system of belief or worldview. Scripture must be studied from a historical, cultural, literary, and contextual perspective in order to properly understand it.

    With that being said, I would like to speak to the earlier point “No where have I found in God’s word that I need a PhD to learn. That is contradictory in my view, as he speaks of resembling a child. Do children have complicated theology that has taken 1600 years to decode and present to us simple minded adults?”

    While it may not be necessary to have a PhD when studying the bible, consulting sources from those who have devoted time to attempting to properly divide scripture is profitable.

    Scripture states:

    Ephesians 4:11-14
    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

    Jeremiah 3:15
    Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.

    1 Corinthians 12:28
    And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.

    So, from scripture, it appears as if utilizing sources from theologians (i.e. teachers and/or shepherds) is useful.

    Chance, Donnie’s response to your request to explain the verse is well laid out as is his answers to your questions. Therefore, there is no need for me to further pontificate. However, a statement made by Dennis Bratcher on verses 21 and 22 in an article I read on crivoice.org while studying our topic is appropriate. He states, “The implication is that it is finally God and His will that govern how mountains are to be moved.”

  8. Gentlemen, our discussion on prayer has taken us into an interesting discussion on the sovereignty of God and how it coexists with the choices of man. I know that each of us seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior so that He may be glorified in and through us. So, these discussions are useful in that they challenge us to think deeply about God, who He is, and our position in relation to Him. I am thankful that God has brought us together as brothers united in Christ and Christ alone to help one another in our journey of sanctification.

    As we prepare to meet tomorrow night to continue our discussion, I would encourage each of you to listen to a podcast “The Reformed Pubcast” Episode 105: The Sovereignty of God with James White. Dr. White speaks to many of the points made though out the previous posts. I think it will be a good place to continue our discussion tomorrow. See you tomorrow night Lord willing.

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