How does prayer work?

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How does prayer work?

Postby Kent » Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:18 pm

Lately I've been wrestling with how prayer, especially intercessory prayer, works.

The worshiper asks God to do something, grant a favor, miracle, whatever. However - God, from Eternity, unchanging in the slightest, acts in the everlasting Now. He knows, always, what He is going to do in everyone's mortal life - past, present, future - from way before any supplicant's existence. No one is ever going to get God to "change His mind".

God does not change. We can and do.

So how might prayer "work"?

Well, if it's a change in oneself, God always provides the grace for self-improvement. We, the changeable ones, only have to accept this grace and act on it.

In others? Well, there is always the power of persuasion.

But the seemingly miraculous happenings? I do not doubt that they can and do happen. But not because in any way God is doing something He would not have done without the intercessory or direct prayer.

What I suspect happens is hinted by our Lord in Matt 17:20, where He tells us if our faith is sufficient we can move mountains. Sounds fairly miraculous to me. So I suspect that we - humanity - may retain just the slightest hint of a trace of the prelapsarian praternatural gifts, which we, in our fallen state, cannot access or are even aware of.
:ponder:
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Re: How does prayer work?

Postby lasaxman » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:44 pm

But the common belief is that the more people you can get praying for a particular cause, the more likely God is to grant it.

Mistaken?
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Re: How does prayer work?

Postby Kent » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:01 pm

But that line of reasoning requires that God changes somehow, from not granting the prayer if few or no people pray, to granting it if He "measures" to see if a "sufficient prayer strength" is attained. This in turn implicitly denies God's omniscience.

More likely, I think, is that increasing numbers of people praying for the same, good thing augment whatever slight trace of preternatural power each individual might have.

Note that whether or not the prayed for end is attained, God has provided from Eternity the necessary means. We, the changeable in time creatures, are responsible for making ourselves able to use it.
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Re: How does prayer work?

Postby lasaxman » Wed Oct 24, 2018 6:36 pm

Kent wrote:But that line of reasoning requires that God changes somehow, from not granting the prayer if few or no people pray, to granting it if He "measures" to see if a "sufficient prayer strength" is attained. This in turn implicitly denies God's omniscience.

His omniscience or His immutability?

I think there are several Bible passages that seem to contradict what you are saying. The one that springs to mind is Mathew 7:7.
Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.


or 7:11
If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?
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Re: How does prayer work?

Postby Kent » Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:33 pm

Neither passage contradicts the idea that the asking makes the asker more able to perceive and accept the blessings that were always there to begin with.

Clearly, though, the idea of somehow "persuading" God to do something He would not otherwise have done is easier for most people to understand.
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Re: How does prayer work?

Postby lasaxman » Thu Oct 25, 2018 9:05 pm

Then you have the story of Abraham and Isaac. Did God change his "mind"? Sure seems like it. Or maybe He was just playing a trick on Abraham.
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Re: How does prayer work?

Postby Kent » Fri Oct 26, 2018 10:33 pm

I think it should be pretty obvious that God, from Eternity, knowing all of Abraham's numerous progeny through Isaac, knew exactly what Abraham would do. I think a better explanation is that through this trial Abraham was being developed by God.

What has me more perplexed, at least for now, is how the saints with their intercessory prayers fit in this. Clearly they do have effects. But are they simply "stand-ins for God" doing what God unchangeably wills, or are they persuadable through prayer in their intercessions? Though they are saints they do retain free will, but now in a perfected state.
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