Does God Change?
Does God change His
purposes or His plans because men pray? Is
anything at all changed because men desire to
have them changed? These are serious questions,
and they demand a serious answer.
It cannot be conceived
that God, who from eternity has had a plan to
which He is working, should change that plan or
purpose because man wants it changed. Like
the stars in the vast circuit of their appointed
path, Gods purposes knows no haste and no
delay. The Desire of Ages, page 32.
Above the distractions of the earth He sits
enthroned; all things are open to His divine
survey; and from His great and clam eternity He
orders that which His providence see best.
The Ministry of Healing, page, 417.
In view of these
statements, some will immediately conclude that
prayer does not and cannot accomplish anything.
If God orders that which He see is best; If His
purposes know no haste or delay, man can no more
change Gods purposes than he can change the
stars in their appointed path. Therefore, what
use is prayer?
It is clear that God
would not encourage us to pray and promise to
answer, if nothing was accomplished by prayer.
The statement is clear: The effectual
fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth
much. James 5:16. Just what does it avail?
In apostolic days, prayer
availed much. The lame were healed; the blind had
their sight restored; the lepers were cleansed;
the paralytics had use of their limbs restored;
even the dead were raised. Acts 3:1-8; Matthew
9:27-31; Luke 7:22, 12-15. In view of Gods
readiness to help us in answer to prayer, we are
exhorted to seek the Lord while He may be found
(Isaiah 55:6); to ask, seek, and know (Matthew
7:7; Luke 11:90; to watch and pray (Matthew
26:41); always to pray (Luke 18:1); to pray that
we may be accounted worthy to escape (Luke
21:36); to pray with all prayer, and
supplication, and thanksgiving (Ephesians 6:18;
Philippians 4:6); to continue in prayer
(Colossians 4:2); to pray for all men (1 Timothy
2:1); to pray everywhere (verse 8).
If we therefore were
asked if prayer changes God, we would answer that
prayer does not and is not intended to cause any
change in God. His purpose is not changed. There
are times when He may have alternate ways of
working or may permit a certain choice of
procedure, as in the case of David where He gave
him a choice of three kinds of punishment because
of his transgression: seven years of famine;
three months of defeat in battle; three days of
pestilence. 2 Samuel 24:12-14; Gods purpose
was not changed though David repented; but the
king did have a choice of punishment.
If we were asked if
prayer does not change anything we would
definitely assert that prayer changes things,
that prayer moves the arm of Omnipotence, that
prayer can move mountains, clear away
difficulties, heal the sick, change the entire
course of a mans life, and even change
There are those who
believe-and Christians among them-that prayer is
primarily a means of getting something out of
God, which He may hesitate to give, but which
persistent prayer will effect. In support of this
view they cite the account of the unfortunate
widow who wearied the judge to the extent that he
at last gave her what she desired, for no other
reason that that she annoyed him. Luke 18:1-8. In
like manner, they believe that if they pray long
enough, God will grant their request. They forgot
that the parable was given not to show what God
is like, but what God is not like. God does not
give men what they ask because they pray long.
Prayer is not primarily
to get from God what a man wants, but rather to
make man satisfied with what he has. It is not
necessarily to relieve him from pain, but to give
him peace to bear it; it is not to attempt to
have God change His mind, but to have man accept
Gods mind. Prayer is not an endeavor to
outline some plan of action for God to follow,
but to ascertain what Gods plan is and
acquiesce in it; it is not to ask that Gods
will be changed, but that Gods will
be done. The chief aim of prayer is for the
supplicant to come so completely into harmony
with God that Gods will becomes his.
If the real purpose of
prayer is to bring a person into harmony with
God, what has thereby been accomplished?
man is now a partner with God and ready
to co-operate with Him in whatever God
mind has been taken from what he prayed
for to something better. He has almost
forgotten what he was so intent upon
getting, and is now occupied with what
God wants him to do.
has learned what Paul did when he said,
I have learned, in whatsoever state
I am, therewith to be content.
has learned to trust God fully, and has
discovered that answer to prayer is not a
problem to him any more. All his
prayers are answered according to the
promise, What things so ever ye
desire, when ye pray, believe that ye
shall receive them, and ye shall have
them. Mark 11:24. A true Christian
will ask of God only that which God wants
him to have; his will is Gods will,
and he asks that Gods will be done;
hence, whatever he asks, he will get. He
is in close touch with God, and sensitive
to Gods will.
Prayer is that simple.
Learn to harmonize with God; attempt to ascertain
His will. As soon as you have done this,
your problem is solved. You may then ask for
whatever you want, and expect to get it; for you
will want and ask only for that which is in
harmony with Gods will, something He wants
you to have. You will in all sincerity and
simplicity inquire, as did Paul, Lord, what
wilt Thou have me to do? Acts 9:6. In
addition, God will make plain what he wants you
to do. You will not continually be imploring God
to do your will. You will leave the matter
with God and be content. Christ was so sure that
the believing supplicant would receive a
favorable answer to his request that He could
assure His disciples, If ye have faith, and
doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is
done to the fig tree, but also if ye say to this
mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast in to
the sea; it shall be done. And all things,
whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye
shall receive. Matthew 21:21,22.
Such answer to prayer can
be true only where the one who prays is so
completely in harmony with God that his will and
Gods are one. It was on this principle that
Elijah declared, As the Lord God of Israel
liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be
dew nor rain these years, but according to my
word. 1 Kings 17:1.
Attitude in Prayer
Elijah would never have
dared use such language had he not had a previous
understanding with God that He would support and
confirm his word. God empowered Elijah to speak
as he did, doubtless to enhance the prestige of
His prophet, as would be the case when his
prophecy came true.
As a result of lack of
rain, a famine arose, and Ahab commanded that
Elijah be found. When they met, Ahab accused
Elijah of being the cause of the famine. Elijah
answered that the real cause was Ahab himself in
that he had forsaken God. He then took charge of
the situation and commanded Ahab to gather all
the prophets of Baal and Astarte together. Ahab
would not have heeded Elijahs command had
he not already been impressed with Elijahs
authority. It is noteworthy that when God told
Elijah to call Ahab, God said, Go, show
thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the
earth. 1 Kings 18:1.
After the test on the
mount had been completed, and it was time for the
rain to come, Elijah prayed for it as if he were
responsible for its coming. Seven times, he
prayed, and then the rain came. Verse 42-45.
This story of Elijah
illustrates what Jesus meant when He said,
Ye shall not only do this which is done to
the fig tree, but greater works than
these shall he do; because I go unto My
Father. Matthew 21:21; John 14:12. To shut
up heaven for three years was a great miracle
than causing a fig tree to wither and die.
We have no other reason
to believe that God at this time will cause
mountains to be thrown into the sea at the
command of a man. Nor do we in the least doubt
that god could do this if the occasion called for
it. Christ uses this extreme illustration to
bolster His word that God will confirm what He
has said, all things are possible to him
that believeth. Mark 9:23.
In summing up what has
been said in this chapter, we reach these
conclusions: Prayer is not intended to procure
for us the things we want from God. Prayer is
primarily the way to bring us into harmony with
God, so that His will and ours will be one. When
this is brought about, peace and contentment will
come to the soul. There is no longer any anxious
pleading with God that He do our will, but a
willing conformity on our part to accept whatever
He sees is best for us. We will continue to pray
as we have done before, but our prayers
will take the form of a conversation with God, as
we would talk with a friend. In addition,
the conversation will not all be on our part;
He will speak His mysteries to us
personally. Often there will come to us a sweet,
joyful sense of the presence of Jesus. Often our
hearts will burn within us as He draws nigh to
communicate with us as He did with Enoch.
-Christ Object Lessons, page 129.
In this sweet communion
that may be ours, we do not keep asking for
things any more than we would of an earthy
friend. We are talking with God, telling Him our
joys and sorrows, and getting from Him the
counsel we need and the blessed assurance that He
can? said Jesus, Everything is
possible for him who believes.
1. Do you
feel that your prayer life is improving and your
moving toward Gods will?
2. Can you
see yourself beginning to change what you used to
pray for? Explain.