Daily Devotional

Prayer and Authority

Changing God's Mind

 

Christians spend a lot of time and effort into prayer, but sometimes this can often seem like a waste of time.

Unanswered prayer is a huge source of frustration for many believers.

 

Part of the problem is misunderstanding about the way that prayer works. Misguided prayer is a major cause of distress. One of the most serious problems is that Christians often pray as if they were trying to change God's mind. They are concerned about a problem in their society and ask God to act to change the situation. If nothing happens, their prayers turn into pleading.

 

Most would not admit this, but their prayer style implies that God is stingy and miserly.

 

Something good needs to be done, and He is able to do it, but has chosen to do nothing.  Some pleads fervently thinking, that he might change His mind and act upon my request. Getting other people to pray might help. If enough good people beg God to take up this cause, He might be persuaded to act. If some of those praying are really godly people, that might help swing Him around.

 

Under this approach, God is all powerful. He can do anything, so if prayer is not answered, it must be because He is reluctant to answer it. The purpose of the prayer is to change His mind and get some action.

 

The underlying idea behind this approach is that prayer changes God's mind. This is a dangerous principle, because changing God's mind is just about impossible. The scriptures are quite blunt on this topic.

 

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change his mind (Num. 23:19).

 

He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind

(1 Sam 15:29).

Humans change their minds all the time, but God is different. He does not need to change his mind.

 

A possible exception is Abraham arguing with the angels about Sodom in Genesis 18. God seemed to give into Abraham's persuasion by agreeing not to destroy Sodom, if there were ten righteous men in it. However, it is not clear that God did change his mind. Sodom was still destroyed, although the angels saved Lot and his family. It is possible that God agreed with Abraham, because he knew that there were not ten righteous men in Sodom. God did not change his mind, rather Abraham was persuaded to agree with the justice of God's action against Sodom. There may be some debate about this interpretation, but anyway this incident does not give me much confidence that I can change God's mind.

 

But, and this is very important; God does call us to intersession to accomplish His will on earth, by putting burdens upon our hearts.

 

The truth is that we should not want to change God's mind, but be influenced by His will. He only wants what is best for us, so a sensible person will not want anything that is not God's will. We get the best of what He has for us by seeking His will and His rulership in our lives.

 

Praying to change God's mind is a waste of time, because we are praying according to our own understanding of things, our fleshly wisdom, not His. This does not mean that prayer is a waste of time, on the contrary prayer releases the hand of God on earth.
 
To understand the purpose of prayer, we must understand the way that authority works in this world, and to understand that we must go right back to the beginning.