Thursday, August 27

thoughts? discussion? anyone?

It's always encouraging for me to read of things that God is teaching others - awesome! What a privilege to watch HIM at work. So when I read MckMama's post this morning, I was encouraged. And I have to say I have never been a fan of the "be careful what you pray for because you just might get it" type of comments, I did love this:

"No matter how careful our planning, we can rest easy in the knowledge that God's plans are greater than ours, even as we watch the plans we had set in motion unravel. When we face these stormy days and nights, we may be taken aback by the fiery intensity of it all, but God is never surprised."

MckMama and sweet Stellan and the whole family have been through more unknowns in the last 17 months than I can imagine. But then I read the comments, and I got to thinking. A lot of people have a lot of crazy ideas about prayer, don't they? So I'm in the mood for a discussion. *rubs hands mischievously* And here's the question:

What does prayer change - God's plan for us, or our perspective?

Discuss away - be nice to each other - and I'll share my thoughts either tomorrow or sometime this weekend!
(oh, I know, the italics make the quotation marks unnecessary. I used them anyway, because I'm like that)


dan and cheryl forbes said...

Does prayer change God's plans, or does it change us? Yes.

Shelley said...

I like what your mom said. "Yes" that says it all.

Abraham prayed for lot and he was spared when God wanted to destroy everything in Sodom and Gomorra.

But it changes us to remind us who God is.

ruth said...

Good question. It is a one that has troubled me for some time.

I really want to dig into this topic and have a real discussion, but I need some time to collect my thoughts, and look up some scripture. I'll come back to respond more fully, but just off the top of my head I think of the the passage Shelley references (Abraham praying God will alter his plans and spare the city for Lot's sake). I also think about the passage in Matthew about our not having because we don't ask or because we ask amiss.

Wild Ghese said...


Rosemary said...

Simple. Matthew 7:7-11 (KJV): "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
The catch is: 'give good things'. Just as we would not give our kids something harmful (even if they begged night and day), our Father knows what are 'good things' for us even if we think that it is something that "we REALLY NEED!!! and EVERYBODY else has one!!!"

dan and cheryl forbes said...

On the other hand, Rosemary, there was the Old Testament king (whose name escapes me and I am too lazy to look it up), who wanted to live longer than God had told him he would live. He pleaded for more years, and God actually gave him more--but they were years when he made foolish choices that impacted Israel negatively after he died.

Alicia said...

Our perspective.

Even in the instances where God "changed" his plans (and I say "changed" in quotes because I don't think it's possible for God to truly change His mind -- and I know what you're thinking, 'What about the OT passages that actually say God changes his mind? Or say that His anger was abated?' I think that's just our limited language trying to explain God's character in a human way. We are too finite to truly get that God can't and won't change.) I believe He had the "change" of plans in His grand scheme of things. So the "change" of mind was in His plan. Why? Maybe to incorporate and involve us actively? Most definitely to put us in our place and show us our dependence on Him.

BUT I readily admit that God has commanded us to pray and I can testify personally to LOTS of instances where He's answered our family's very specific prayers. Again, I think that even that cooperation of my prayer and His answering is a part of His bigger scheme to bring glory to Himself. It's not that the power lies in me to change events but it's that I am privileged to be a part of His work through my prayers.

Sorry that was such a long response! I hope I expressed myself accurately and effectively despite my lengthy use of words and the fact that it's late Saturday night and I haven't many functioning brain cells. :)

Tim and Richelle said...

OK, this is an off the cuff response after having been awake most of the night... so...

Mr. and Mrs. Forbes - I agree 100% that prayer changes... both!

Alicia - I appreciated your comments. I think the Bible is clear that God does not change. And, if you want to equate will/intention with plan, I'd say that His plans for us don't change - it is His will that all men spend eternity with us... and then you can also step into the predestination question. I also agree that a huge part of our struggle in understanding this topic is our finiteness and God's infiniteness... but I do believe that God's plan leaves room for change, i.e. the above mentioned examples... King Hezekiah in the OT, Abraham interceding for Lot, Moses interceding for Israel and God's continued presence, as well as the passage in Matthew cited above... which leave me trusting and clinging to a God that never changes, who had a plan from before time began and already knows the detailed outcome of that plan because He's God and not limited by time, but who's plan can change... and I can't understand all of that.

Jenny, I'd like to add that prayer can not only change God's plan fo rus, our perspective... but also that prayer changes me and does so from the inside out... not just how I look at myself, God, circumstances, others, His Word, etc.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Rachel said...

It is as though Alicia read my thoughts, organized them and wrote them down in a coherent way. She has a gift of the English language that I do not possess. So thanks, Alicia:).

God does everything for His glory, does He not? Will I glorify Him for an answered prayer that I did not specifically pray for? Not likely. ;)

Isaiah 46:10 - He 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,’

Numbers 23:19 - 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?

Psalm 119:89 - Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.

This question has caused me to think, read God's Word, research commentaries and discuss this in depth with my husband. I have concluded that because of God's sovereignty, omniscience and immutability, His plans do not change. We are the ones who change.

Stephens said...

Whew, great discussion, Jenny! Ditto on all that Alicia said! This area of prayer was a struggle for me as I studied and learned more of the sovereignty of God early on in our marriage and ministry. If God is sovereign, why petition Him in prayer? Well, for one, He tells us to! So much of what Alicia said is what Kris has said in discussions with me. :-) Here are some other verses and thoughts along those lines:

Eph. 1:11
~God is going to do what He is going to do. The question is--Are we going to be involved in what He is doing? God accomplishes his purpose and plans through the prayers of His people. We get to be involved in His plan, not change it.

In the OT cases, where it seems God has changed His mind or plan, in reality, it was the people who changed to get in line with God. It's like rowing upstream and then turning around and rowing with the current. It's a lot easier, but not because the river changed, you did.

In other places, like Amos 7:1-6 and Exodus 32:10-14, God reveals potential judgment and then ordains an intercessor in order to demonstrate the glory of His mercy by not bringing about those judgments.

Well, those are my (and Kris's) two cents to the conversation. :-) Pray on! Watch God work! Love ya, friend!